What is a Baby Friendly Hospital & Why to Give Birth at One

A newly born baby laying with his mother on her chest doing skin-to-skin.

What is a Baby Friendly Hospital & Why to Give Birth at One

When you’re pregnant you’ll have lot’s of decisions to make. You’ll need to choose an OB/GYN or midwife. Along with that decision you’ll have to decide on a place of birth. If you choose to birth in the hospital, you’ll choose between the different hospitals’ reputations and various recognitions. But have you ever heard of a Baby Friendly Hospital? Many of us would just assume that all labor and delivery units would naturally be “baby friendly.” Believe it or not, not all hospitals receive this designation.

We are going to break down what in the world a Baby Friendly Hospital is and why you may want to give birth at one. Also, how you can go about finding one that may be local to you.

What is a Baby Friendly Hospital?

The Baby Friendly Hospital initiative started in 1991 and was launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. It was started as a way to help hospitals and places of birth offer breastfeeding support.

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A hospital can be considered when they offer each of the designated ten steps to help encourage successful breastfeeding. Not only that, but accreditation is fairly rigorous, so you can be certain that the hospital and all staff members have gone through extensive training to ensure that they are upholding the most up to date information on maternity care as well as infant feeding to share with moms and families.

Benefits of a Baby Friendly Hospital

A hospital that has received the accreditation means that they meet the ten steps required to help promote successful breastfeeding but to also help promote mother-baby bonding. Here are some of the things the hospital has to offer and some of the benefits of a baby-friendly hospital. (1)

  • Education offered to families to help families make informed decisions about feeding their baby.
  • Supports immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth.
  • Lactation support offered right after birth and well after mom and baby’s hospital stay.
  • Staff is always available to answer your questions about baby and breastfeeding right from the start.
  • You can have your baby assessed for any potential feeding issues from day one to help promote a better chance of breastfeeding success when you get home.

How to Find One

If you know you want to breastfeed your baby, and you want to give birth in a hospital that provides support and encourages early bonding between mom and baby, then you may be interested in giving birth at a baby-friendly hospital. The great news is that there are now over 500 different breastfeeding facilities in the US, so there’s a good chance there is one close to you.

You can find one by searching on the Baby Friendly USA website and searching based on your zip code. More hospitals are seeking out accreditation. This means that baby friendly facilities are going to be popping up throughout the country as the years go on.

Ask yourself if breastfeeding is important to you. If so, find a hospital and health-care providers who support immediate skin-to-skin and best breastfeeding practices. Giving birth at a Baby Friendly facility may be exactly what you are looking for.

About the Author /

Rebecca is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant who specializes in women's health, healthy recipe developer, content writer, and momma to two under two.

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