Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center has received a gold "safe sleep" certification. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine’s 26 birthing hospitals have received national certification that they are reducing unsafe sleep conditions to prevent infant deaths.

This makes Maine the second state to have all of its birthing hospitals certified under this program, which provides and teaches methods that help new parents prevent accidental infant suffocation and death. The only other state to meet that benchmark is Delaware.

The certification is as part of the Safe Sleep Maine campaign, a joint initiative between the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification organization.

To be certified, hospitals with maternity wards and birthing services have to develop and implement a “safe sleep” policy, train staff on “safe sleep” guidelines and provide education for parents before they are discharged from the facility.

The program teaches parents that babies should sleep alone in their cribs, on their back, in a clean and clear crib, and that caretakers should be drug-free and alert to babies while they are sleeping.

Kelly Bowden, a perinatal outreach education coordinator at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, said that certification provides consistent messaging from hospital staff that they are concerned for families well-being.

“Evidence suggests that modeling safe sleep in the hospital translates into more babies being put into safe sleep environments at home,” Bowden said.

Bangor’s Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is among the eight Maine hospitals that achieved a gold certification, the highest level. Four other Northern Light hospitals received gold certification.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine outdoors.