The initiative recognizes hospitals and birth centers that have policies and practices in place to enable parents to make informed choices about how they feed and care for their babies.
University Hospital made a commitment to this initiative about four and a half years ago because we believe breastfeeding is the best for both baby and mom. The pediatricians, family practice physicians, and nurses in labor and delivery and the nursery are behind the program.
University Hospital received designation this month, making us the first hospital in the state and the 71st in the country to be recognized as a baby friendly facility.
Why Choose a Baby Friendly Hospital?
• A baby friendly hospital has taken special steps to create the best possible environment for successful breastfeeding.
• Nurses in the well baby postpartum floors, Newborn ICU, and Labor and Delivery have spent the necessary time and energy to become experts in breastfeeding.
• University Hospital wants moms to know we are here to support them when they decide to breastfeed and to make it a successful experience.
Why is breastfeeding important?
• There is quite a bit of evidence that the sooner mom and baby start breastfeeding, the longer mom will maintain it after leaving the hospital.
• We know breastfed babies have fewer ear infections and fewer problems with food allergies (especially babies with a family history of allergies). Breastfeeding also promotes better brain development.
How does a hospital implement successful breastfeeding?
The Baby Friendly Initiative recommends 10 steps to successful breastfeeding.
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health-care staff.
2. Train all health-care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
Breastfeeding champions and lactation experts with the Women’s and Children’s Services have worked with nurse managers to get all staff trained.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
This helps concentrate on a very strong mother-baby emphasis. Depending on the health of the baby, this can be accomplished in most cases.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation when separated from their baby.
6. Give newborn infants only breast milk, unless medically indicated.
The hospital no longer accepts free formula from formula companies. However, we do ask a mother’s preference for breastfeeding or a bottle.
7. Practice “rooming in” by allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
University Hospital’s standard of care is to have a healthy term baby in the room and never separated from his or her mother longer than one hour during a 24 hour period. University Hospital has maternal-child nurses, which means mom and baby have the same nurse.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial nipples, pacifiers, dummies, or soothers to breastfeeding babies.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital.
University Hospital’s success with Baby Friendly Initiative
• The initiation rate for breastfeeding has always been pretty high—91 to 94 percent—even before we started the journey of becoming a baby friendly hospital.
• What University Hospital hopes is to affect the longevity of mother’s who breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
• From data the State of Utah tracks, we know that 62 percent of babies delivered at University Hospital are still breastfed at 2-4 months, up from 50 percent in 2001.
• The Hospital hopes the education, well-trained staff, and support moms receive during their stay at University Hospital will help them be more confident and able to maintain breastfeeding after leaving the hospital.
To learn more about all the services available at University Hospital, go to www.healthcare.utah.edu