Hospitals taking big steps to be more ‘Baby Friendly’

Hospitals taking big steps to be more ‘Baby Friendly’

Hospitals are safe, comfortable and healing places for babies in their fragile first days of life. That’s why hospitals say the ‘Baby Friendly’ Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a great way to provide even more specialized post-partum care to new moms and their little bundles of joy.

BFHI, launched worldwide by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), encourages and identifies hospitals and birthing centers that offer the best level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.

The initiative recognizes and awards those facilities that have implemented two vital and important programs: Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

In Illinois, Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care has several hospitals within its system working towards being recognized as ‘Baby Friendly.’

Marie Levy, manager of perinatal services at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., says its important mothers and families take the time to research health care systems that will be providing their maternity care.

“Expectant mothers may want to consider selecting a hospital that uses evidence-based research as its foundation in providing care for both mother and infant,” she said. 

In order to be named a ‘Baby-Friendly’ facility, hospitals must follow a broad and thorough plan to excellence in delivering outstanding maternity care with results that achieve positive infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding.

Staff are also required to be a close part of this process and receive robust training and skill building at all levels. Levy says BFHIs generate opportunities to develop high performance work teams, which helps build leadership skills, promotes employee pride, enhances patient satisfaction and improves health outcomes.

“The clinical staff ensures that mothers and families are appropriately educated to make informed decisions that affect their infant’s quality of life,” she said.

Levy adds that the goal of ‘Baby Friendly’ is not to pressure moms to breastfeed or make them feel guilty if they choose not to, but rather to make sure they are informed about the benefits to baby.

“In a ‘Baby Friendly’ environment, breastfeeding becomes the norm, and everything is set up within that environment to promote and protect mom’s decision to breastfeed,” she says. 

Advocate offers the following as part of its breastfeeding programs:  

  • Education and assistance for breastfeeding mothers
  • Infants and mothers are placed skin-to-skin right after delivery to help stabilize the babies. Skin-to-skin is also used often throughout the hospital stay to ready infant for breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding is encouraged within one hour after delivery, when a baby is most receptive and the mother has an abundance of healthy colostrum to feed her infant
  • Mothers and their babies room together so that mother and her significant other learn to identify their child’s early feeding cues
  • Pacifiers are used judiciously as a means to assist moms in watching their infant’s feeding cues

Levy says Advocate Children’s Hospital is also home to Illinois’ first comprehensive milk donation program, which provides 100 percent exclusive human milk feeding to babies born at less than 3.3 pounds or infants who are sick.

To learn more about the BFHI, visit

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.