When you’re pregnant, you’ll have lots 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 will break down what in the world a Baby Friendly Hospital is and why you may want to give birth at one. Additionally, we’ll cover 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.
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. You can be certain that the hospital and all staff members have gone through extensive training to ensure that they uphold the most up-to-date information on maternity care and 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 and mother-baby bonding. Here are some of the things the hospital has to offer and some of the benefits of a baby-friendly hospital.
- Education is offered to families to help families make informed decisions about feeding their baby.
- Supports immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth.
- Lactation support is offered right after birth and well after the 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 accreditation. This means that baby friendly facilities will 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 healthcare 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.