Baby Friendly Hospital, lucky me!

Did you have your baby at a “baby friendly” hospital?  I’m sure we would all love to say, of course!  What kind of hospital isn’t baby friendly?  Unfortunately, too many.  In 1991, UNICEF and the World Health Organization launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage hospitals to be places of breastfeeding support.  Again, one wonders why hospitals aren’t already the biggest supporters of breastfeeding?!

There are 10 specific steps that are needed to be followed to be designated Baby Friendly.  The hospital also must not accept free or low-cost breast milk substitutes.

I moved to a new city three months into this pregnancy.  I wanted to get a doctor and get one fast.  It wasn’t until after I had been accepted as a patient that I looked into the hospital in any depth.  Lucky for me, this hospital has recently been designated Baby Friendly, the first in Montreal.  We had our tour of the labour ward yesterday, which they call the birthing center:)  After an extensive, two hour lesson on what to expect in terms of breastfeeding in the 36 hour hospital stay (average time after a vaginal delivery), I feel very excited about their breastfeeding policies.

We are four weeks from our due date.  As the nervous excitement for labour day increases, I am feeling pretty good about our chances of having a natural, non-medicated hospital birth, although this is not dictated anywhere in the baby friendly initiative.  I am even more confident that I will get immediate skin to skin with my baby and a good start on my breastfeeding journey.

Did you give birth at a baby friendly hospital?  What was your experience like?

Here is an excellent article about the Baby Friendly Initiative and it’s progress and role in American hospitals

6 thoughts on “Baby Friendly Hospital, lucky me!”

  1. Yes, I delivered at a hospital that trumpeted its “Baby Friendly” designation on banners all over the parking structure. I was glad, because I was dedicated to breastfeeding. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t great. My first lost .1 oz too much in his first days, which meant they wanted us to supplement with me nursing both sides, then pumping with their industrial-strength pump while my husband supplemented with formula by finger-feeding. This whole thing would take about 1 1/2 hours, then we’d start again 45 minutes later. I really think, looking back, that it contributed to my PPD.

    My second baby had a prolapsed cord, and was born with only a faint heartbeat. He rebounded well, but still spent the first week in the NICU. They had no place for me to stay after being discharged from the maternity ward. I made a tiny scene, saying I guess I’d just have to sleep in my car in the unsafe parking structure since I wanted to nurse on demand. The nursing supervisor got Security to let us sleep on the couch in the tiny chapel.

    My experience overall was that they had promotional materials that supported breastfeeding, had lactation consultants of varying quality on staff, but when it came down to it, didn’t have the resources to really support mothers and babies who have a tough start but want to breastfeed.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that your experience was disappointing. I did get the impression from our hospital tour that perhaps the focus was too much on weight gain (or loss) and not as much on initiating a positive breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. I still feel confident that I will get to enjoy the skin to skin contact that is promoted with the initiative.
      You are right, it is having the resources and getting them to the patients that means so much more than posters on the wall!

    2. Lunasea, one of the two Baby Friendly hospitals in BC is attached to Children’s Hospital, which houses the NICU and is NOT Baby Friendly~I wonder if your hospital was the same? In that case it might make sense that practice did not live up to preaching… So sorry to hear of your difficult experiences!

  2. Wonderful! You are very fortunate! In BC we have only 2 Baby Friendly hospitals so most birthing women are in less than ideal environments for initiating breastfeeding. I gave birth 3 times in non baby friendly hospitals~poor advice, inconsistent information, and a blase attitude towards infant-mother separation were my experiences. Fortunately my mom is a lactation consultant; I needed the most help my first time because I had a cesarean, a baby with tongue tie, an hour an a half of separation after the birth, and inexperience to slow me down. Determination and good info and my mom were instrumental in making my goal to breastfeed exclusively succeed.

    My next two births were midwife attended VBAC hospital births. With a midwife, you don’t have to work so hard =) natural birth is the assumed shared goal, and a natural birth goes a long way towards setting up breastfeeding success.

    I also breastmilk fed my adopted son, but that’s a whole other story =)

    Best of luck with your birth!! And I’m sure your breastfeeding journey will be successful. It really is 98% determination. I know some women who have persevered through some pretty crazy circumstances because of determination (not that breastfeeding failure is from a lack of determination, at all!), and you sound well prepared and determined!! =)

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words Melissa. I do feel very fortunate to be having the baby in a Baby Friendly hospital. I had hoped to deliver in a birthing center with a midwife, but there is only one in my area and the waiting list is long! Hopefully for my next baby.
      Indeed, perseverance and attitude is key. It’s great that you were determined enough to seek out the right support with your first baby.
      The healthcare system has a long way to go, but this initiative is a step in the right direction.

      1. Being in a Baby Friendly facility will take you a long way!! Having a midwife was one way I armed myself against the NON baby friendly part in our hospital! =) You won’t need arming. It is too bad there is a national shortage of midwives for the demand, and VERY few birthing centres for women who would like to give birth in a halfway point between home and hospital. We’re advancing, but slowly!

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