Not All Hospitals Are Baby-Friendly

Christie Haskell

As if there's not enough to worry about when it comes to giving birth in a hospital, the immediate treatment of your infant is just as important as the birth itself, if not more. In fact, some hospitals are more baby-friendly than others.

The World Health Organization and the United Nation's Children's Fund are working to acknowledge and encourage delivery at these hospitals above all others. But the sad reality is that in the entire United States, there are only 97 Baby-Friendly Hospitals that made the list.

As a military spouse, my choices of where to give birth were certainly limited. I really had no choice other than home or hospital, the latter being covered by insurance (and the former being what I should have done). I would say the Naval Hospital was pretty baby-friendly, even by the WHO's standards ... but only AFTER birth -- not during. They certainly aren't part of the 97!

What makes a hospital "Baby-Friendly"?

First, the encouragement of more natural birth and less drugs, which can create a drowsy newborn and mom (which is where the Naval hospital failed -- they have the pushiest damn anesthesiologist in the universe).

Second is that as soon as the baby is born, it should go to the mom's chest, with the blanket OVER the baby, not between baby and mom -- if a blanket is used at all. Mom is the ORIGINAL baby-warmer. Skin-to-skin contact is proven to be amazingly beneficial to all babies and encourages steady respiration, heart rate, and of course, temperature regulation.

The goal is that the hospital promotes, protects, and supports lactation. The newborn should be encouraged to breastfeed as soon after birth as possible, but especially within the first hour when baby is incredibly alert and calm, or else baby gets drowsy and misses the perfect, nature-designed time to start nursing.

Also, all non-emergent medical procedures should be delayed for at least four hours, as babies who spend that first time with mom, breastfeeding and laying on her chest, are shown to cry less (if at all), be happier, calmer, breastfeed better, and have better stats.

In baby-friendly hospitals, there are no nurseries for healthy newborns. Baby needs to stay with the parents, not have pacifiers or bottles or any unnecessarily liquids (not even water), and a lot of these hospitals encourage skin-on-skin time with the new dad as well while mom rests.

If your hospital isn't baby-friendly, you can make these demands nonetheless. Keeping your baby with you can make a huge difference in the newborn's health and your breastfeeding relationship. Demand that unless there is an emergency, baby goes straight to you and you are left alone for awhile as a family.

Even if your husband has to be your own personal bouncer.

Did your hospital make the list? 


Image via heatherama/CafeMom

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