If a new mother doesn’t get breastfeeding going well in the first few days, she probably won’t be breastfeeding in the next couple of months. Where are the majority of mothers and babies in the first few days after birth? In the maternity hospital. The fact is that most US maternity hospitals score very low when graded on how they optimize mother/baby care. For example, babies are born and are often whisked away from their mothers even when there is no medical reason to do so. Most nurses and doctors receive very little training in breastfeeding medicine and hospitals hand out formula to new mothers that they received for free from the formula companies. Making changes to mother/baby care is crucial to increasing the number of exclusively breastfed infants and overall breastfeeding rates.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. It recognizes and awards birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and follow the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.
There are no maternity facilities in Broward County with Baby-Friendly designation at this time. The good news is that several of our local hospitals are working toward implementing the ten steps listed above. To learn more about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/about-us/baby-friendly-hospital-initiative.