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Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative

Breastfeeding symbolHave you heard of the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative (BFHI)? BFHI was started by The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF in 1991 following the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration on breastfeeding promotion in 1990. The initiative’s goal is to improve the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed babies for the best start in life. It aims at improving the care of pregnant women, mothers and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

With all that said here’s what I have been getting to…

It is a rare exception when a woman cannot breastfeed her baby for physical or medical reasons. The biggest problem in our society is that  most woman do not feel confident andor secure with the decision to breastfeed or to continue to breastfeed. Many times being challenged by her family and friends, the media, and health care providers. This is so evident in the south. Take Alabama only 56.7% of babies were ever breastfed and only 8% of babies in Alabama are still breastfed at 12 months. Compare this with California where 86.6% of babies were breastfed and 25.7% were still breastfeeding at 12 month. 

In the past few years support for  breastfeeding has grown in the south and across the nation, but here in the south most still think that it is something for only the first few weeks, or worse not important. They don’t understand that letting others give bottles lowers their milk supplies and end up formula feeding not sure why their milk “dried up”. I have worked hard to breastfed my Son after failing breastfeeding my daughter by 5 months. I believe I failed because I didn’t have the knowledge or support I needed at the time. I made a pact with myself when I found that I was expecting again that this time I would succeed. I believe the only reason I have is because I visit a support group weekly hosted by our local hospital, I visit many online support groups for local and national veiws, and I read books and articles on breastfeeding. 

The hospital is not the only place a mother should receive support for breastfeeding but the hospital provides the bridge between support and education provided prior to and after delivery. We should add our support by first getting out there and telling our hospitals that it is time to stop the “gift bags” that ALL woman get when leaving the hospital.  It is ours and our babies RIGHT to breastfed. We need to get our hospitals to start working to become certified as Baby-friendly. This will give more of our moms the support and confidance to say “breastfeeding is what is best for my baby and me.”

Are you with me?

The criteria for a hospital’s Baby Friendly accreditation include:

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.

3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.

5. how mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.


About Blessed Are The Mothers

My name is Lisa Horstkamp and I am a private practice lactation counselor and a Birth and bereavement Doula. I became a certified doula with stillbirthday as of October 2015. I am a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) with The Healthy Children Project of April 2015. CLC Scope of practice: SBD Doula Principles of Service (Scope) I'm a southern woman born and bred. I am raising my "Southern Bell" and "bubba" the way I see fit. I started out breastfeeding my oldest but without good support I ended up using formula and not meeting my breastfeeding goal. I breastfed my youngest for 33 months, until he no longer requested, far out reaching my original goal of 6 months. It would not have been possible without the abundant support from my IBCLC and other breastfeeding moms in the support group at our local hospital. I'm on path to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in the next few years and looking forward to increasing support for my area.

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