In 2011 Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital became the 9thHospital in L.A. County to be designated as “Baby-Friendly”. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages caregiversto give new mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their infants, and recognizes hospitals and birth centers giving this optimal level of care.
When babies are breastfed, both mother and baby are healthier throughout their lives. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, breastfed babies have less childhood cancer and diabetes and a lower risk of being overweight or obese in childhood and adolescence compared to formula-fed children. Women who breastfeed face decreased risks of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis. The greatest benefits are derived when babies are breastfed exclusively (breast milk is their only food) for the first six months of life.
The hospital staff worked for four years to thoroughly implement Baby-Friendly policies. According to research, hospitals that implement Baby-Friendly policies achieve higher breastfeeding rates.
Baby-Friendly designation is granted after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital was surveyed in 2011 to become the 121st hospital nationwide given the Baby-Friendly designation. To maintain the award a hospital must:
1.Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
2. Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
7. Practice "rooming in"-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage unrestricted breastfeeding.
9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.