Penn Ob/Gyn Care

Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global effort to improve the care of pregnant women, mothers and infants. The BFHI is about making sure that all mothers have the information they need to make the best decisions about infant feeding and the help they need to meet their feeding goals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Surgeon General, American Academy of Pediatrics and many other health care groups are encouraging hospitals to become Baby-Friendly. Penn Medicine is on the pathway to Baby-Friendly designation.

What are the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding?

mother and baby in hospital

These research-based practices are shown to help mothers and babies get off to a good start with breastfeeding:

  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 benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice "rooming in" which allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours/day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Penn Medicine upholds the World Health Organization/UNICEF's "10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," published in a joint statement entitled, Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services.

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Why Breastfeeding is Best

woman breastfeeding child

Breastfeeding offers newborns the most complete nutrition available. Human milk provides nutrients and antibodies babies to thrive. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows lower risks of certain diseases and better health outcomes for mothers and babies who breastfeed. Breastfeeding gives mothers and babies some important health protection:

  • Lower frequency of ear infections for babies
  • Fewer respiratory tract infections
  • Breastfeeding cuts the risk of sudden infant death almost in half
  • Breastfeeding helps protect women from diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and heart disease

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"Rooming in" With Your Baby

mother, father and baby

In addition to breastfeeding, Penn Medicine supports mother and baby "rooming in" together after birth. By keeping babies close to their mothers right after birth, mothers can breastfeed when their babies are ready. Healthy babies and their mothers stay together day and night and practice "rooming in" so they can get to know each other. This also allows new parents to understand normal baby behavior.

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Use of Pacifiers/binkies

mother kissing baby

During the hospital stay at Penn, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed every time their baby wants to suck. This will help to make plenty of milk for the baby. If mothers use a pacifier in the first few days, they may miss their baby's feeding cues. Keeping the baby skin-to-skin with the mother while she is awake will keep the baby calm and let the mother know when to feed. Penn recommends that a few weeks pass before offering a pacifier.

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