July 31, 2023

Being Baby-Friendly

General Health

Fort HealthCare is one of over 20,000 Baby-Friendly® designated facilities designated by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) founded the BFHI to give birthing mothers the skills and support they need to breastfeed their babies.  Only birthing centers that adhere to evidence-based standards of care that support breastfeeding mothers and their babies earn this prestigious recognition

What does Baby-Friendly mean? 

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is an international program designed to recognize and encourage high standards of care for supporting breastfeeding initiatives and mother-baby bonding. In the US, the accrediting body is Baby-Friendly USA, which is responsible for coordinating with birthing centers and conducting rigorous testing for facilities that uphold the standards for successfully implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and follow the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Baby-Friendly® facilities help dispel myths surrounding breastfeeding and breast-milk substitutes, help mothers initiate breast-feeding in the early days after birth, and support every mother’s right to choose what is best for themselves and their baby.  

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:  

  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 the 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 separated from the baby. 
  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 twenty-four 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 groups upon discharge from the hospital or birth center. 

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes include:  

  1. No advertising of breast-milk substitutes to families. 
  2. No free samples or supplies in the health care system. 
  3. No promotion of products through health care facilities, including no free or low-cost formula. 
  4. No contact between marketing personnel and mothers. 
  5. No gifts or personal samples to health workers. 
  6. No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels or product. 
  7. Information to health workers should be scientific and factual only. 
  8. All information on artificial feeding, including labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and the costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding. 
  9. Unsuitable products should not be promoted for babies. 
  10. All products should be of high quality and take account of the climate and storage conditions of the country where they are used. 

Why is the Baby-Friendly® accreditation important? 

Since implementing the BFHI, the lactation support offered to birthing mothers has grown. Influential marketing of breast-milk substitutes that undermine breastfeeding initiatives have no place in Baby-Friendly birthing centers, and mothers are given the proper education needed to understand the benefits of breast milk, to be able to breastfeed if they choose, and to ultimately make their own informed decision.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that breastfeeding is initiated within one hour of birth and should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. In addition to mother-baby bonding, breastfeeding can decrease the risk of gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, and sudden infant death. Evidence suggests that mothers who breastfeed are at decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Despite the benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding rates are low worldwide. In the US, only 55.8% of babies continue to breastfeed until 6 months, and only 24.9% are exclusively breastfed.

The BHFI gives mothers the knowledge, skills, and support to initiate breastfeeding within that first hour after birth and continue exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months, after which breastfeeding should continue to supplement solid foods. Since the founding of Baby-Friendly, USA, nearly 10 million babies have been born in Baby-Friendly® birthing centers across the US. Fort HealthCare has been a Baby-Friendly® facility since 2016. Fort HealthCare participates in continuous monitoring and auditing by Baby-Friendly USA for a period of five years. After five years, it must pass an on-site assessment to remain a designated Baby-Friendly® facility. 

Lactation Support 

It’s a myth that breastfeeding comes naturally to every mother. Our birthing center’s certified lactation consultants help mothers begin breastfeeding after birth and continue to offer support services so mothers can successfully continue breastfeeding throughout the baby’s first months of life. Appointments with lactation consultants and our monthly breastfeeding support group are available to continue to offer that support, as well as other support services to help ensure both the mother and the infant’s continued health after birth. You can call our lactation consultant hotline to speak with a certified lactation consultant at (920) 568-5396.