Bayhealth has taken steps toward being named a “Baby-Friendly”-certified hospital through the Baby-Friendly USA Corporation.
Only a little more than 150 hospitals nationwide have attained Baby-Friendly certification. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to the BFHI, mothers who give birth at Baby-Friendly certified hospitals are more likely to breastfeed exclusively and to continue breastfeeding up to one year or more. Why is this important?
“The benefits of breastfeeding go on and on,” said Gail Smith, RN, IBCLC, Bayhealth Lactation Services Program Coordinator. “Breast milk is the single best food for your baby. Not only does it have all the nutrients your baby needs to thrive, it protects your baby from illnesses and allergies, and it’s free – you can’t beat that. It has been that way for thousands of years!”
Smith is a passionate advocate of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, which is a program and process for creating an optimal environment for maternal/infant bonding and the initiation of breastfeeding through implementation of the WHO/UNICEF ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’ throughout Bayhealth.
Not only does the initiative provide a nurturing environment for new mothers learning to breastfeed, it also takes into consideration the needs of the breastfeeding mother and her baby months after the birth of the child.
“Bayhealth staff will receive ongoing education to ensure breastfeeding mothers who come into our hospitals for reasons long after the birth of their child – for example, they need x-rays or even outpatient surgery – receive appropriate accommodations to continue breastfeeding during the course of their stay,” Smith added.
For mothers who choose to formula feed, education includes safe preparation of formula, with guidelines on appropriate amounts to feed a newborn, as the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other agencies have made childhood obesity a top priority.
Bayhealth Lactation Services offers support and guidance for new and experienced breastfeeding mothers. Please call (302) 744-7233 for questions or counseling, or visit www.bayhealth.org/breastfeeding for information on counseling, available classes and support groups.