Hospitals with the Baby-Friendly designation have a demonstrably higher level of expertise in support and education of mothers interested in breastfeeding their newborns.
The designation is conferred by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and implemented in the United States by Baby-Friendly USA. This initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers which offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
Based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, this prestigious international award recognizes birth facilities which offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:
- 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.
Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care, with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. It compels facilities to examine, challenge and modify longstanding policies and procedures. It requires training and skill building among all levels of staff. It entails implementing audit processes to assure quality in all aspects of maternity care operations, enhances patient satisfaction and improves health outcomes.
“We are extremely proud of being named the first Baby-Friendly hospital in southern Nevada,” said Vicky VanMeetren, president and CEO of the Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican, San Martín Campus. “The practice of breastfeeding has always been an important part of what we do here at San Martín and this designation is significant to the community.” There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 175 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States. The Baby-Friendly designation is given after a completion of a rigorous on-site survey. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the ten steps as demonstrated by quality processes.