Southeast Georgia Health System-Brunswick Campus Receives Prestigious International Award

March 5, 2019

There’s nothing like a new baby to bring out the worrier in a first-time mom. She’s got so many choices to make, and it’s normal for her to question whether she’s making the right decisions.

But she can feel confident in the decision to breastfeed. Breast milk helps babies develop stronger immune systems and reduces their risk of allergies, asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, ear infections, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It also lowers the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. 

Recently, Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. announced that the Southeast Georgia Health System Brunswick Campus has received prestigious international recognition as a Designated Baby-Friendly hospital. 

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of 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. Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes hospitals and 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 562 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The “Baby-Friendly” 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.

“Breastfeeding rates are increasing nationwide with more than 80 percent of mothers choosing to breastfeed,” states Lyn Hrivnak, BSN, IBCLC, lactation consultant, Southeast Georgia Health System. “At Southeast Georgia Health System, we help mothers get off to the very best start by providing breastfeeding education before their baby is born as well as after they’ve delivered. We also offer support throughout their breastfeeding journey so they can meet their goals for feeding their babies.”

Special training for team members

The Health System employs Hrivnak full time to help new mothers become comfortable with breastfeeding. In addition, Baby-Friendly training (step two of the 10 steps) is given to:

  • Nurses, for 20 hours each.
  • Physicians, for at least three hours each.
  • All team members who interact with new moms, including unit coordinators, surgical technicians, environmental services, radiology, anesthesia, emergency, pediatrics, pharmacy, respiratory and PACU, for one hour each.

“Anywhere our mothers go in the Health System, we want to make sure they are supported,” says Kim Buckley, R.N., BSN, manager of patient care services at the Health System’s Miriam & Hugh Nunnally Maternity Care Center. “If a mother needs help, our team members are trained to get her the support she needs.”

Education for new moms

“Breastfeeding goals are easier to achieve when mothers are well prepared,” says Hrivnak.

The Health System provides pregnant women with educational resources on topics such as the benefits of breastfeeding and how to manage breastfeeding (step three of the 10 steps).

“We provide breastfeeding education early in the pregnancy, so that mothers know how to gather information and resources. When their baby comes, they’re prepared,” explains Buckley. “Once a family is informed, they can make the breastfeeding decision that’s best for them, and we support them no matter how they decide to feed their baby.”

After delivery, Health System team members assist women interested in breastfeeding by:

  • Helping them breastfeed within one hour of birth (step four of the 10 steps).
  • Promoting “rooming in” (allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day).
  • Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
  • Giving breastfeeding infants no food or drink other than breast milk (unless medically necessary) and no pacifiers or artificial nipples.
  • Encouraging breastfeeding “on demand” (whenever the baby is hungry, rather than on a schedule).

“Helping mothers breastfeed within one hour of birth is one of the most important steps to successful breastfeeding,” says Hrivnak. “We encourage skin-to-skin contact for moms and babies during the first hour of life because this ‘Golden Hour’ is ideal for bonding. Skin-to-skin helps babies in their transition to life and with learning to breastfeed.”

Support for the family

Education and support don’t end when the family leaves the hospital, which is important, because as baby grows, so does the number of mom’s questions.

The Health System provides support groups (step 10 of the 10 steps) and breastfeeding classes at the Brunswick and Camden campuses. It also works with local government and nonprofit organizations to help pregnant women and new mothers obtain additional support.


More than 80 percent of mothers at Southeast Georgia Health System begin breastfeeding while at the hospital. Prior to the Health System pursuing a Baby-Friendly designation, those numbers were closer to 40 or 50 percent, says Buckley.

Patient reaction to the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding has been positive. Mothers are noticeably better informed and better prepared. “They know what questions to ask and they have an expectation of what they want their breastfeeding experience to be,” says Hrivnak. “They also have an expectation that help will be available. And by participating in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, we’re meeting that expectation.”

To learn more about maternity care services offered at Southeast Georgia Health System, please visit or call 912-466-3184. For more information about the national Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit

About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, three immediate care centers, five family medicine centers and numerous employed physician practices. The Health System has multiple outpatient specialty care centers, including the only CyberKnife® Program in the region and one of only four in Georgia, and a Cancer Care Center accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. For more information, call 855-ASK-SGHS (855-275-7447) or visit