L+M Designated as a “Baby-Friendly” Hospital
The “Baby-Friendly” hospital initiative was launched by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1991 and is part of a global effort to expand practices that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. L+M is one of 177 hospitals and birthing centers nationally – and seven in Connecticut – to hold the “Baby-Friendly” designation. L+M is also the only hospital in southeastern Connecticut designated as “Baby-Friendly.”
The work toward L+M’s “Baby-Friendly” designation began several years ago when Connecticut hospitals were invited to participate in a new breastfeeding initiative funded by the CDC and the state Department of Public Health.
L+M’s Kathy Mason, an international board-certified lactation consultant, led the three-year initiative at L+M to examine, challenge and modify longstanding policies and procedures regarding breastfeeding. “Mothers who give birth at Baby-Friendly hospitals are more likely to initiate exclusive breastfeeding, and they’re more likely to sustain breastfeeding at six months and one year of age,” Mason says. L+M became one of 10 hospitals chosen to participate in the initiative, with the goal of becoming “Baby-Friendly.”
Ten key steps in that journey, as specified by Baby-Friendly USA, include: the development of a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff; staff trained in the skills necessary to implement the policy; informing all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding; helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth; showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation; giving infants no food or drink other than breast-milk; allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day; encouraging breastfeeding on demand; giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants and fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support and referral groups for mothers.
One benefit of breastfeeding is the composition of breast milk which provides nutrients specifically adapted to the changing needs of the infant. Breast milk also helps provide immunities to protect against allergies, respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, diarrhea, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. “Human milk is the normal way for infants to be nourished,” she added.
Mothers can still choose formula to feed their babies at L+M, however, all mothers at L+M are provided current information on the lifelong health benefits of breastfeeding.