You may think that every hospital supports nursing mamas and breastfed babies, but that’s far from true. In reality, many hospitals still hand out formula to new mamas, but fail to provide ample breastfeeding support. There are hospitals that only have a few, if any, lactation consultants available 24/7. There are even hospitals where the staff push pacifiers or bottles over breastfeeding. With this in mind, if you’re planning on having your baby at a hospital, and you also want to breastfeed, it’s smart to choose a hospital that truly supports breastfeeding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is one tool that can help you find a breastfeeding-friendly hospital. Keep reading to learn more about this program.
BFHI is a global program that aims to encourage and recognize hospitals that do support breastfeeding families. BFHI, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), helps hospitals provide mothers (and families) with the information and skills needed to successfully initiate breastfeeding. The program also recognizes that some families will formula feed, so there’s a how-to safely feed formula component in the program as well.
Sadly, as of January 27, 2011, only 105 U.S. hospitals and birth centers have been designated as Baby-Friendly. That’s extremely shabby, especially when you consider that more than 19,000 global maternity facilities, in other countries around the world are designated as Baby-Friendly. 105 here in the U.S. vs. 19,000 elsewhere – the United States falls woefully behind when it comes to breastfeeding support.
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