Hattiesburg, Mississippi – In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by Vice President of Forrest Health, Millie Swan, to cut the ribbon on the city’s second Mothers’ Lounge at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center on Friday, August 30.
The Mothers’ Lounge is a dedicated space at the City of Hattiesburg’s busiest community center and is designated as a private and comfortable room for mothers to nurse and care for their little ones.
Establishing dedicated rooms for nursing mothers and more changing stations in public spaces is an initiative that was introduced by Forrest General during 2017, and one that Barker intends to carry on throughout many of Hattiesburg’s city-run facilities.
“We know that growing and educating the next generation of Hattiesburg starts at the earliest stages, with a focus on maternal health,” said Barker. “With partnerships like these, we can continue to foster a culture that promotes healthy living with mothers. I believe that this will continue our trajectory as not just a premier city in the Gulf South – but a healthy one.”
The first room, a partnership between Forrest General Hospital and The University of Southern Mississippi, provides nursing moms with a quiet, private place to care for their babies during football season. It is located at Cook Union on the Hattiesburg Campus and is on the second floor in room 215. Knowing the need for more mother and family-friendly spaces in Hattiesburg, Barker was inspired to spread the initiative city-wide.
Through this vision and with Forrest General’s help, the first room for a city-owned facility was established at C.E. Roy Community Center in 2018. Barker added that his administration will continue this initiative in as many of its community centers as possible as an effort to create a more mother-friendly Hattiesburg.
Per best practices, each room is a dedicated space, with an electrical outlet available for plugging in a breastfeeding pump and is in close proximity of both a sink and a refrigerator. A changing table and comfortable seating are also included.
While the basic priorities of each room follow these guidelines, additional features include kid-friendly artwork, a diaper cabinet supplied by the Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg’s Diaper Bank. They also include books and toys for siblings who might be joining mom and baby.
“As a healthcare professional and a mom, it means so much for our city to embrace nursing moms and families in this way. We want women to see breastfeeding as a truly viable option for them rather than viewing it as a hassle, and I believe the Mothers’ Lounge initiative will help with that goal,” said Millie Swan, Forrest Health vice president.
Throughout the month, Forrest General Hospital focused on helping women learn about the benefits of breastfeeding while ensuring they also have the support they need to start.
Some of the benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Proper, age-appropriate nutrition for infants
- Breast milk contains antibodies that reduce infants’ risk for bacteria and viruses.
- Nursing may reduce children’s risk of common childhood diseases.
- Breastfeeding helps promote a healthy weight for both the infant and mother.
- Possible increase in intelligence.
- Breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract promoting healing after birth.
- Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced instance of depression.
- Breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk for some diseases, including breast and ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding saves time.
- Breastfeeding saves money.
Because of the incredible benefits for both infants and mothers, breastfeeding is encouraged for a minimum of 12 months after birth. Forrest General has already made great strides for women and children in the Pine Belt by becoming the first Baby-Friendly Hospital in the state and the first hospital in the state to be named a Blue Distinction®Center+ of Excellence for Maternity Care by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi. Both of these prestigious awards follow strict, evidence-based criteria for their requirements ensuring mothers and babies only the highest quality care at facilities with these designations.
The hospital also offers breastfeeding classes, which are offered at no cost to any mother who delivers at Forrest General Hospital, in addition to specially-trained lactation nurses are available to help moms learn how to breastfeed and to answer questions. They can be reached by phone from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily at 601-288-3763.
The Caring Expressions Gift Shop at Forrest General Hospital offers hospital-grade breast pump rentals for moms delivering at Forrest General. For more information on this service, call 601-288-4283.
To learn more about Women and Children’s Services at Forrest General, visit forrestgeneral.com.