What is a Baby-Friendly Hospital?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends beginning breastfeeding in the first hour of life. The AAP also recommends that babies be exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. No other fluids or supplements are needed during this time, except for vitamin D. And, breastfeeding should continue past six months, even as supplemental foods are introduced, for a minimum of one year, and thereafter for as long as agreed upon by mother and baby.
According to WomensHealth.gov, breastfeeding:
- Provides mom and baby with a close, special bond.
- Ensures the baby gets nutrition only a mom can provide.
- Benefits the health of both mom and baby.
- Provides cost savings to moms.
At a baby-friendly designated hospital, introducing breastfeeding immediately after birth is just one gold-standard practice. The baby-friendly designation, created by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, indicates hospitals that implement and follow evidence-based practices to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration, as well as promote mother-baby bonding.
What That Means
Baby-friendly hospitals like Beebe ensure every woman delivering a baby knows the importance of breastfeeding and learns not only the benefits of the practice, but also how to initiate breastfeeding immediately after delivery. Baby-friendly hospitals initiate skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery or C-section, keep moms and babies in the same room at all times, and support moms with breastfeeding through lactation consultants.
Moms are shown how to start breastfeeding within the baby’s first hour of life. All staff support the hospital’s breastfeeding policy, and moms have access to breastfeeding help and educational classes.
While the focus of baby-friendly is on breastfeeding, it also supports the importance of how a mother and infant bond with each other following birth, regardless of feeding method.
Immediately after birth at Beebe, your care team will place your new baby skin-to-skin on your chest. This skin contact helps stabilize the baby's temperature and blood sugar and begins the bonding process. For mothers giving birth via a C-section, they will also experience skin-to-skin contact in the operating room. As soon as the care team checks the baby and makes sure he or she is healthy, they will help place the baby on the mother's chest. The majority of mothers who give birth at Beebe enjoy this right-after-birth contact.
Breastfeeding Best Practices
If you’re expecting, follow the AAP’s guide for breastfeeding preparation.
- Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before and during pregnancy. Talk with your partner about breastfeeding and what it involves.
- Talk with your physician about breastfeeding. Sign up for a childbirth class and/or breastfeeding class, both offered for FREE at Beebe Healthcare to learn more.
- If your baby will be with a caregiver, plan for how you’ll provide breast milk to your baby.
- Maintain regular visits with your baby’s pediatrician after you leave the hospital. Babies are typically seen three to five days after leaving the hospital and again two to three weeks after birth. These visits ensure your baby is gaining weight and getting appropriate nutrition during the first few weeks of life.
- Talk with your employer about breastfeeding when you return to work.
Breastfeeding establishes an important connection between mom and baby. You can support your daughter, friend, or relative through the birthing and breastfeeding process by:
- Encouraging her to pursue a childbirth/breastfeeding class that covers breastfeeding and lactation.
- Supporting her decision for breastfeeding, no matter what. The support of loved ones for new moms is crucial.
- If you’re a caregiver for the new baby, ensure you follow the mom’s guidelines. Follow her schedule for feeding and receiving pumped breast milk for the baby.