Baby-Friendly Hospitals: Myth vs Fact

Genesis Medical Center in Davenport is completing the extensive “ten steps” or requirements to receive the “Baby Friendly” designation later this year.

What is Baby Friendly?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.


50% of women do not meet the breastfeeding goals that they set for themselves. Our goal is to help women meet THEIR OWN breast feeding goals.

We want to give women all of the education and support they need to increase the chances that they will meet THEIR goals.


Why should I want to deliver at a hospital like Genesis with a Baby-Friendly designation?

Hospitals with the Baby-Friendly designation are prepared to help you and your new baby get off to the best start. The hospital has given their staff extensive additional training regarding the care of breastfeeding mothers and babies, and has demonstrated that they have policies and care practices that meet the gold standard for mother/baby care related to breastfeeding. Babies stay close to their mothers right after birth (especially in the Golden Hour, or first hour after birth) so that they can breastfeed as soon as they are ready. The Golden Hour is also beneficial to babies who are fed formula which include regulating breathing and body temperature after birth. Policies allow healthy babies and their mothers to stay together day and night (rooming in) so they have the best chance to get to know each other. Hospital staff will carefully assess your baby’s feeding so that early problems may be taken care of quickly and staff will also assist you in breastfeeding so that you feel more confident.


What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

  • Far fewer and less serious illnesses, including a reduced risk of SIDS, childhood cancers, and diabetes.
  • Women who breastfeed have decreased risks of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis.
  • Families who breastfeed save money. Breastmilk is free!  Also, you are less likely to miss work to care for a sick child.
  • Some research shows that breastfed babies have higher IQ scores, as well as better brain and nervous system development.
  • Breastfeeding is good for the environment because there is no packaging!


If I deliver at Genesis or another Baby-Friendly hospital, do I have to breastfeed?

NO. You can feed your baby how you choose and we will support your choice. We will make sure you have the facts in order to make the decision that is best for you and your family.


I heard I can’t send my baby to the nursery? Is that true?

NO. We encourage the baby to be in your room so that you can learn to recognize the early feeding cues your baby gives you. If you wait until they are crying to feed them, it is often much more difficult. The hospital staff have also been trained to try to do most things right in your room, such as the pediatrician or family doctor examining your baby. However, we know that new moms can be exhausted! Especially in situations such as a very long labor or a Cesarean section, if your partner is not able to stay with you at the hospital, your baby can be in the nursery during the night.


Can my baby have a pacifier if I want him or her to have one?

YES. We encourage you to wait on using a pacifier for the first few weeks if you are breastfeeding because it CAN interfere with the baby learning how to latch, but it is your choice. After the latch is well established, pacifiers actually help decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But it’s best to wait for a few weeks.


What if I try to breastfeed and it just doesn’t work?

If breastfeeding worries arise after you and your baby go home, the lactation consultants at Genesis, along with your doctor or midwife, can try to help with any difficulties you may be having with breastfeeding to help you meet your goals. The lactation consultants will even have consultation rooms soon in the new tower at Genesis, right next to the mother-baby unit.  We also fully support you if you stop breastfeeding. We respect your autonomy and your ability to make decisions that are best for your family and your situation. There can be feelings of guilt or sadness if it doesn’t go the way you hoped it would, and we want to be there to support you. You are a great Mama no matter how your baby is fed!


Who thinks the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a good idea?

All of the maternal and child health authorities in the United States endorse and promote the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative:


  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Nurses
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
  • Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • National WIC Association
  • U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • U.S. Surgeon General

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at Genesis is a positive change which has educated our staff so that YOU can meet YOUR baby feeding goals, whatever they may be!

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