Baby Friendly Hospitals
It’s 2:00 A.M. and I get a call from one of my patients, a new mom who delivered her baby after an extremely long and difficult labor.
“Would you mind taking the baby for a few hours so I could get some sleep?” she asks.
I willingly take her baby out to the nurses’ station, lining up his bassinette next to the other late-night baby visitors and popping in his pacifier when he starts to fuss.
It’s not an uncommon scene on the labor and delivery unit of our small hospital. But it may soon be an obsolete one.
Welcome to Baby-Friendly USA, a new initiative to promote mother-baby bonding and encourage breastfeeding. According to the website, the practices of baby-friendly hospitals lead to 13x higher rates of successful breastfeeding than regular hospitals.
Hospitals that want to sport the “Baby-Friendly Badge” must follow certain criteria, including:
- Help mothers breastfeed within one hour of birth
- No formula or other nutrition unless medically necessary
- Practice “rooming in,” with mothers and babies staying together 24/7
- Do not offer pacifiers or artificial nipples.
While some fear the thought that “baby-friendly” doesn’t always translate into “mom-friendly,” parents that choose baby-friendly hospitals report positive experiences.
“It was so nice to be there every step of the way with my baby,” says Sharee Jones Lincoln. “It was a wonderful experience because their main concern was for the best possible care for baby and me. All of the initial assessments were done while my baby was on my chest. Those are the sweetest moments in life and I'm glad I experienced them with my baby either in my arms or only an arm’s length away instead of in the nursery with a nurse.”
Currently, there are just over 150 hospitals in the nation that are “Baby-Friendly” qualified. Find out if there’s one near you here.
So what do you think – would you choose to deliver at a ‘baby-friendly' hospital?
Image via Chaunie Brusie