Is Your Birth Location Breastfeeding Friendly?

Since it is World Breastfeeding Week, I would like to intercept my detox series with some talk about breastfeeding. 

There is a worldwide initiative backed by the  World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for hospitals and birth centers to become breastfeeding friendly.  The initiative offers a certification that officially labels the hospital or birth center as “Baby-Friendly”.  A Baby-Friendly Hospital or Birth Center must meet the initiative’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

I really value this initiative, since it encourages breastfeeding within the first hour of an infant’s life.  This is the most crucial hour that can influence a mother’s milk supply for the duration of lactation.  A baby suckling on the nipple during that first hour after birth stimulates the hormone prolactin, which is in charge of a mother’s milk production.

I also like their discouragement of the use of pacifiers and artificial nipples during those first few days of an infant’s life.  A Baby-Friendly Hospital will not offer a pacifier to a newborn.  Pacifiers can interfere with breastfeeding if they are used before breastfeeding is established.  I’ve seen babies get nipple confusion when a pacifier was given in the first few days of a baby’s life.  New parents enjoy the way it soothes the baby, and they don’t realize how much its use can thwart all attempts to successfully breastfeed.  The mom gets frustrated.  The baby is frustrated.  And breastfeeding ends.  All of which could have been prevented by holding off on the pacifier for another week or two.

As of July 2011, there are 114 Baby-Friendly Hospitals and Birth Centers in the United States.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) keeps track of how many babies in the U.S. are born in Baby-Friendly Facilities in their annual Breastfeeding Report Card.

Click here to see if your hospital or birth center is Baby-Friendly.

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One Response

  1. Donna Mathwig

    Kudos! From a longtime breastfeeding advocate with nearly 8 years of personal experience, I’m always surprised that some moms have lactation challenges – good reminder about early pacifier use. My babies were never pacifier babies – I wanted them to be, (to be able to self-soothe), but they were nipple-only. I couldn’t even get them to take a bottle as a substitute, thus, we were rarely separated!


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