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Lutheran Medical Center has been recognized as a designated Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA, according to a release from the organization.

Baby-Friendly USA implements the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

"We're proud to be a team of committed providers who have met the guidelines and the highest standards to provide the best possible environment for breastfeeding," said Marcia Teague, Manager of Lutheran's Mom/Baby unit. "We know that both moms and babies benefit when babies are breastfed."

Based on the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” the international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies. There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 489 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The "Baby-Friendly" re-designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

For more information about the U.S. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.