In the hospital world, the term “Baby Friendly” has a specific meaning. It doesn’t just mean the obvious— that hospitals seek to provide a safe, friendly environment to welcome new lives into the world. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. It recognizes hospitals that offer an optimal level of care in support of infant feeding. This focus on breastfeeding and mother baby contact is proven to improve health outcomes for babies.
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Marshall Medical Center has been working toward this key designation for well over a year, and is currently in the process of providing the required clinical training for nursing staff and physicians, which will allow it to apply for certification later this year.
Marshall employs highly qualified lactation and nursing staff, who provide mothers with confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
Steps include encouragement of the baby and mother “rooming in” together, rather than babies being sent to a nursery. This allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day in most cases.
A key aspect of being “Baby Friendly” is immediate initiation of skin to skin contact between mother and baby. At Marshall, skin to skin contact between mothers and infants begins immediately after birth, which promotes optimal bonding and attachment, as well as a more natural initiation of the first breastfeeding, which happens by instinct.
BFHI promotes, protects and supports breastfeeding by informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding their babies.
With the recent opening of the new Birth Center at Marshall, all these Baby Friendly efforts are even easier to accomplish, because of the family-friendly and spacious rooms, well suited to having mom, dad, baby and other family together the whole time, as much as is desired.