Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in Northampton

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Childbirth Center takes baby steps toward national initiative

Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Childbirth Center in Northampton, MA has received a certificate of intent from the UNICEF/World Health Organization Baby-Friendly USA Hospital initiative. Receiving this document is a first step in Cooley Dickinson’s application process toward becoming certified as a Baby-Friendly hospital, according to this organization’s ten-step process.

Paula Mattson, international board certified lactation consultant and the hospital’s liaison to the Baby-Friendly initiative says the receipt of the certificate indicates “Cooley Dickinson has joined other pioneering birth facilities in setting standards of excellence for assisting pregnant women and new mothers with breastfeeding.”

“While the certificate recognizes Cooley Dickinson’s commitment to breastfeeding and to the completion of the first phase of the application process, additional steps such as nurse and physician training need to occur before the Childbirth Center can promote itself as a Baby-Friendly hospital,” adds Mattson. Boston Medical Center is the only Massachusetts hospital that has met all standards of the Baby-Friendly USA Hospital Initiative.

The certificate of intent lauds Cooley Dickinson Hospital for its “sincere commitment to promote, support and protect breastfeeding by striving to implement the Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding of the UNICEF/WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative.” Mattson says Cooley Dickinson employees are working toward those steps, which according to the UNICEF/WHO include:

  1. Maintaining a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Giving breastfeeding infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practicing “rooming in”– allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding.
  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.

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