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Baby-Friendly: What It Means (And Doesn't Mean)

Baby-Friendly: What It Means (And Doesn't Mean)

Having a baby soon? If you’ve been researching where to deliver, chances are you’ve come across the term "Baby-Friendly."

woman holding newborn babyBaby-Friendly designated birth facilities – such as our Family Birth Center – have earned international recognition for their efforts in giving babies a healthy start in life. To date, only about 600 birth facilities out of the thousands nationwide have earned the prestigious Baby-Friendly designation.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about the designation, causing some soon-to-be parents to avoid giving birth at a Baby-Friendly facility. That's why we want to clarify what Baby-Friendly actually means — and doesn’t mean — so you can feel confident in your choice of where to deliver your baby.

Baby-Friendly Means a Verified Optimal Level of Care

The Baby-Friendly designation is a global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and promoted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The rigorous designation requires birth centers to have policies that enhance mother-baby bonding, offer optimal care for infant feeding and ensure a baby’s nutritional needs are adequately met, regardless of whether a mom chooses to breastfeed or formula-feed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are among several major health authorities that support Baby-Friendly guidelines. Choosing a birth center with the designation means that Baby-Friendly USA, a third-party accrediting body, has verified the facility follows the highest standards for mom-and-baby care practices.

What It Means for You and Your Baby

1. Support for successful breastfeeding or formula-feeding.

How to feed your baby is a very personal choice. And, we respect your right to decide what’s right for your family. Our staff members will provide you with the education, tools and support to help you make the best feeding decision for you and your baby, whether that be to breastfeed or formula-feed.

  • If you choose breastfeeding, our board-certified lactation consultants can help you build the confidence and skills needed for success:
    • A team of registered nurses with lactation certification will support you every day while you’re in the hospital. This support is the reason nearly all babies born at our Family Birth Center go home successfully breastfeeding.
    • After you and baby have gone home, you can receive one-on-one outpatient breastfeeding support from a board-certified lactation consultant who can help with a variety of breastfeeding concerns or challenges.
    • We offer free post-partum breastfeeding and mother-baby support groups, so you’ll never be at a loss about what to do.
  • If you choose formula-feeding, or if it’s medically indicated, our care team will educate you on how to prepare formula and feed it safely to your baby.

2. Support for mother-baby bonding.

As a Baby-Friendly birth facility, our Family Birth Center implements practices to help moms and newborns establish a strong bond:

  • Snuggling skin-to-skin. As soon as your full-term, healthy baby is born, he or she will be placed skin-to-skin, belly-down, directly on your chest. Snuggling skin-to-skin lets you and your baby get to know each other, helps soothe your newborn and facilitates breastfeeding. Continuing skin-to-skin contact throughout your hospital stay can help your baby keep warm, stay calm and cry less.
  • Private, spacious rooms for rooming-in. Moms and infants room together day and night to encourage maternal-infant bonding and promote early breastfeeding for moms who wish to do so. Staying together round-the-clock helps you learn your baby’s feeding cues and needs, all under the expert guidance of highly trained staff.

Myths vs. Facts About Baby-Friendly

There is a wealth of misinformation regarding the Baby-Friendly initiative. Here are answers to some common Baby-Friendly myths and concerns.

Myth: Baby-Friendly birth centers deny formula feeding.
Fact: It’s true that Baby-Friendly facilities are committed to fully informing new mothers that scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates breast milk feeding is the optimal nutrition for infants. However, that doesn’t translate into denying formula.

We recognize that breastfeeding can be challenging for many women, both physically and emotionally. By having trained nurses— available 24 hours a day — our Family Birth Center helps mothers achieve their feeding goals, whether that be exclusively breastfeeding, combining formula with breastfeeding or formula-only feeding.

Myth: I’ll be “forced” to breastfeed.
: A popular myth is that Baby-Friendly facilities “force” mothers to breastfeed. Nothing could be further from the truth. We respect every mom’s right to make an informed decision about how to feed her baby and empower her to carry out that decision.

Myth: I won’t be able to rest and recover with rooming-in.
Fact: Studies show that new moms rest better and longer when their babies are in the same room.

Additionally, our Family Birth Center has “quiet hours” in the daytime, when we limit interruptions and visitors. During this time moms are encouraged to nap and rest or take an aromatherapy bath or shower. Our staff members work as a team to facilitate this.

We also teach new moms a variety of positions for breastfeeding, with the goal of helping them heal and rest while breastfeeding. Our large, queen-size family beds often help make breastfeeding comfortable, enabling rest.

Tour Our Baby-Friendly Family Birth Center

Get an inside look at our Baby-Friendly Family Birth Center and its family-friendly birthing and postpartum rooms. This free 2.5-hour session is a perfect introduction.

Click here to register.