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Is your hospital “baby-friendly”?

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a WHO– and UNICEF-sponsored program to encourage hospitals to promote optimal newborn care and feeding. Hospitals can qualify to be designated as officially Baby-Friendly. Our local Marshall Medical Center in Placerville is currently seeking this coveted designation, a symbol of recognition that their birth center practices top quality maternity care.

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How does a hospital reach this baby-friendly standard? In order to qualify, these 10 evidence-based practices must be carried out by the hospital:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6. Give 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 breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Not all hospitals are designated Baby-Friendly, but that doesn’t mean they don’t adhere to these practices. Hiring a doula can also help establish a successful breastfeeding relationship. Contact me today to find out how Placerville Doula can assist you in getting off to a great, healthy start to your breastfeeding relationship.

To find a designated baby-friendly hospital near you, visit Baby-Friendly USA.

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