During my first three deliveries, I had never heard the term baby friendly hospital. In fact, my births went something like this: 1. Baby crowns. 2. Quick glimpse at baby. 3. Baby is whisked away to be measured, weighed, checked and anything else the medical staff deemed necessary.
Once the placenta is delivered, I’m stitched and eventually allowed to hold my tiny, squishy, newborn.
Imagine my surprise when I was about to push out baby number four and my nurse asks to remove the top of my gown. After he was born, my midwife swiftly placed him on my chest so I could see little guy up close. He looked around as he lay on my chest. His whimper turned into a full-fledged wail and without a second thought, I placed him on my breast to feed him.
What is a Baby Friendly Hospital and Why You Need to Find One
That experience helped me to fully comprehended what Baby Friendly Hospitals truly are. Baby Friendly Hospitals might be a relatively new name but the idea is something that homebirth mamas have known about for some time. To me, baby friendly means some very specific things:
skin to skin
encouragement of breastfeeding
Baby Friendly Hospitals: Support Breastfeeding from the Start.
Each person on staff learns the benefits of breastfeeding. They encourage breastfeeding on demand. They also help determine issues by providing knowledgeable nurses and lactation consultants. Hospitals that are baby friendly also agree to not give baby anything to drink (not even water) unless medically necessary.
While formula is allowed, if it’s moms wish, it is not promoted or offered typically by the hospital staff. They discourage the use of pacifiers or bottles.
Baby Friendly Hospitals: Promote Skin to Skin Contact.
What is skin to skin? It usually refers to the time period directly following birth where the attendant places the baby directly on the mother’s chest. They cover the baby’s back with a light blanket. Baby lies on their mama’s chest.
This is a time of bonding, resting, and hopefully nursing. Exams are either done on the chest of the mom or the staff waits for a better moment. This usually lasts for at least an hour and after the first feeding.
The last baby friendly hospital I delivered in encouraged skin to skin for several hours after birth and even over the first several weeks (once home). We did a method called Kangaroo Care. Although used for preemies, it is a wonderful tool for full-term infants.
According to The Cleveland Clinic, Some of the benefits of kangaroo care to the baby include: improving breathing and stabilizing heart rate, oxygen saturation, improving bonding, and milk supply, among many other factors.
Click here to find out the all the benefits for skin-to-skin.
Baby Friendly Hospitals: Encourage Rooming In.
This also means that many Baby Friendly Hospitals don’t usually provide a nursery for healthy newborns to sleep in. During my last several births, the baby had to room-in the entire stay in the hospital. The promotion of 24 hours a day with mom means that babies are able to quickly establish their breastfeeding relationship.
In my honest opinion, Baby Friendly Hospitals can help babies and mamas get off to a very good start. If you would like to see which hospitals in your state are baby friendly, click here to see a list of Baby Friendly Hospitals.
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Have you delivered in a baby friendly hospital? Leave a comment below!