Natural Parenting Toolbox: Finding a Breastfeeding-Friendly Birth Setting

Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding

baby nursingResearch has shown that information and support are essential to successful breastfeeding. While it is likely that midwives at home and in birth centers will recommend and support breastfeeding, if you are giving birth at a hospital, look for one that is breastfeeding friendly. An international health initiative, The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), will help you to recognize such hospitals and birth centers. To be certified by BFHI, a facility must follow the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. They are:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

2. Train all health care 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 an hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice “rooming in” by allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats, pacifiers, dummies, or soothers to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birthing center.