Initiative encourages hospitals to promote breast-feeding |

Initiative encourages hospitals to promote breast-feeding

Governments around the world, medical professionals and public health organizations all agree: Breast-feeding is best. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding for a year. Breastfed babies have been shown to have less diarrhea and fewer colds and ear infections than formula-fed babies do. Studies also indicate that they’re less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or develop lymphoma later in life. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is providing the framework, education and best practices for hospitals committed to improving maternity care.

Baby-friendly designation recognizes hospitals that offer exceptional care and support for infant feeding and bonding with the mother. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in response to research supporting the health benefits of breast-feeding launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 2001. According to WHO, breast-feeding reduces deaths from malnutrition, which is currently responsible for nearly half of all deaths in children younger than five. The number of hospitals applying for designation has increased over the past 10 years, in large part due to one of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services federal goals: increasing the rates of breast-feeding initiation and duration.

Baby friendly designation is no easy task. Hospitals are required to adopt 10 guidelines, backed by research and proven to promote breast-feeding, including skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant within the first hour of life and providing bonding moments for the baby and mother by spending 23 of a 24-hour day together. Education is another key component of the 10 guidelines by providing maternity care education and counseling for mothers and families on the importance of breast-feeding.

Baby-Friendly Hospital Guidelines

1. Has a written breast-feeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy

3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breast-feeding

4. Help mother initiate breast-feeding within one hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming-in — allow mothers and infants to remain together — 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breast-feeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breast-feeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative offers hospitals a framework to improve upon best practices and procedures, to be supportive by providing new parents with the best information possible, giving their child the best possible start toward long-term health.

Parenthood is a journey like no other. To learn more about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and the baby-friendly programs offered by the Family Birthplace at Valley View please visit

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