Through every stage of pregnancy, a woman’s body provides all the nourishment her developing baby needs. And after she gives birth, a mother’s body continues to provide the perfect nutrition through every stage of infancy – and beyond – through the production of breast milk.
At Capital Health, we recognize that breastfeeding provides health benefits for babies that last a lifetime, and that a mother’s health is also enhanced by breastfeeding. But we also recognize that new mothers don’t always get the support they need to successfully breastfeed.
Achieving Baby-Friendly® designation fits perfectly with our goal of educating all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding and offering the support they need to do so with success.
What does Baby-Friendly® Mean?
Launched worldwide in 1991, the Baby-Friendly® Hospital Initiative is a joint project of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The goal of the initiative is to recognize hospitals that provide a positive environment for breastfeeding mothers by fulfilling the rigorous standards outlined in the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.”
Why is the Baby-Friendly® Initiative Necessary?
Worldwide, particularly in developing countries, more than a million infants die every year because they are not breastfed, or are given other foods too early. Millions more live in poor health, contract preventable diseases and battle malnutrition.
But even in the United States, thousands of infants suffer the ill effects of feeding practices that are not what they should be. A decreased risk of diarrhea (for which approximately 200,000 U.S. children are hospitalized each year), fewer respiratory infections, ear infections and allergic skin disorders are among the many benefits of breastfeeding for infants in the United States and other industrialized nations.
How Breastfeeding Makes a Difference
Human milk is the most complete nutrition for babies. It provides the perfect mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for a baby to thrive. Studies have shown that breastfed children have fewer and less serious illnesses than those who never receive breast milk, including reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and less childhood cancer and diabetes. As cited in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight and obese. This is of particular importance in the United States today where the Surgeon General also reports that more than 17 percent of children are overweight.
Mothers who breastfeed are healthier. Studies show that women who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. They, along with their babies, enjoy emotional benefits from the bond they form through breastfeeding. In addition, breastfeeding naturally spaces pregnancies.
Breastfeeding saves money. While breast milk is free, breast milk substitutes or formulas cost up to $3,000 for the first year of life. An American Academy of Pediatrics study estimates that if 90 percent of United States families complied with the recommendation to exclusively breastfeed for six months, the country would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants.*
If You Have Your Baby at Capital Health
You will benefit from an environment that encourages and supports new mothers with breastfeeding through the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” a set of guidelines that are posted in many areas of the hospital.
In addition, we will:
- Provide education to all parents about the benefits of breastfeeding, the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for six months and the basics of breastfeeding.
- Put your baby “skin to skin” with you at birth so the baby can naturally respond to you and start breastfeeding as soon as possible. We will avoid unnecessarily separating you from your baby, even if you have a Caesarian birth.
- Help you with breastfeeding during your stay and instruct you on how to maintain your milk supply if you must be separated from your baby.
- Enable you to keep your baby with you at all times. This is safest for your baby, protects the baby from infection and allows you to learn the baby’s feeding cues.
- Not put your baby on any type of feeding schedule and make sure the baby is put to breast at any time upon any sign of hunger or distress. You will be taught to recognize effective feeding which is more significant than how long or how many times your baby breastfeeds.
- Only observe practices that are evidenced by research. Pacifiers have not been shown to be beneficial to normal newborns and can be detrimental to breastfeeding success. Therefore, we do not give babies pacifiers except for procedures that might be painful such as circumcision. You may bring your own pacifier if you choose to use one.
- Give you a list of places you can go for help with breastfeeding. Capital Health also has outpatient lactation services, a telephone line for questions and a new parent group that meets on Tuesday mornings.
If You Have Made an Educated Decision to Use Formula
The staff will support your decision, provide formula for your stay and review additional education you may need after discharge. The most up-to-date information on caring for your baby will be provided and any questions you have will be answered.
Capital Health does not participate in any formula promotional programs with pharmaceutical companies and protects its patients from exposure to such advertising.
*American Academy of Pediatrics, study, The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis