Baby (and mother) Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-Friendly hospital initiative was created in 1991, and now spans across many countries. If you’re expecting a child, and aim to have a more humanistic, breastfeeding friendly experience look up what, if any hospitals in your area are Baby-Friendly. Unfortunately the U.S., is lacking in these hospitals, especially in low-income marginalized communities.

Baby-Friendly hospitals must follow a 10 step program, ensuring best practices in terms of breastfeeding initiation and support. Among other practices here are a few most important steps taken to support the mother and baby Mothers are encouraged to do Skin-to-Skin, placing baby immediately after birth, or as soon as possible on mothers chest. Pacifiers and other soothers are not to be used. Formula is not provided, or encouraged unless specifically requested by the mother. And mothers and babies are encouraged to room-in together, so as to assure breastfeeding on demand.

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

To help in the implementation of the initiative, different tools and materials were developed, field-tested and provided, including a course for maternity staff, a self-appraisal tool and an external assessment tool. Additional tools were developed afterwards, such as monitoring and reassessment tools. Since its launching BFHI has grown, with more than 152 countries around the world implementing the initiative. The initiative has measurable and proven impact, increasing the likelihood of babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six months. -WHO site

Breastfeeding and CLC Training.

Last week I attended the much anticipated, Lactation Counselor training through Healthy Children’s Project. I grew up in a household where breastfeeding was the norm. Being the youngest I never witnessed my mom breastfeed in person, but thanks to the hundreds of home-movies taken during my infancy, and early toddler years, I have seen the effortlessness that breastfeeding was for my mom.

I never thought much about these glimpses I had into breastfeeding, until I took the CLC training. In the training I realized, not necessarily for the first time, how lucky I am to have seen breastfeeding, not only through home-movies, but also in person, via my moms many friends- some of whom she met at La Leche League. These women openly fed their babies in front of all the children, their own and their friends kin. I realize now, again not for the first time that many children, boys and girls never see breastfeeding, either because their moms, and moms friends didn’t breastfeed, or because breastfeeding was done behind closed doors. Seeing my mom and her friends’ breastfeed normalized breastfeeding for all of us older children. But, what it didn’t do was prepare me for the difficulties so many women face when they decide to breastfeed.

The video that comes to mind is of my first birthday. My mom is on the floor and I’m crawling around, and then I’m on her lap, where I simply reach up, and with little adjustment on my moms part, begin to breastfeed. There is no change on her expression; she continues to talk to her friends. This is what I saw, and without the CLC training I wouldn’t know that breastfeeding can be hard, and that women can face a myriad of challenges.

…Now I just have to wait 8 long weeks to find out if I passed the CLC exam.

For those of you looking for breastfeeding support contact your local La Leche League, WIC, Mother’s group, and ask your doctor, (If he/she is pro breastfeeding!)