Baby-Friendly hospitals are popping up all over the country, making breastfeeding more supported for new moms and babies.
The Baby-Friendly designation was created by the World Health Organization and introduced to Canada through The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. The initiative, promoting skin to skin contact between baby and mother as soon as the baby is delivered–regardless of whether the baby was delivered by C-section or vaginally–means that mothers are supported by maternity staff who have received additional training on how to assist new mothers with breastfeeding.
Baby-Friendly hospitals are staffed with nurses who are better equipped with techniques to help new moms through an often stressful and anxiety-filled learning process. Designated facilities even allow new moms to remain in the hospital for extended periods until they feel confident to return home with their baby to breastfeed on their own.
Anna Tumoth is the leader of the Baby-Friendly initiative at the High River Hospital in Calgary and told Global News that the hospital’s decision to institute the practice was about support. “For us, getting this baby-friendly designation was about the family. We wanted to really up our standards with having the family be a full part of the delivery experience,” said Tumoth.
Baby-Friendly trained staff aim to help those mothers who wish to breastfeed do so successfully, with added support and resources during a physically and emotionally draining time. Mother of four Jennifer Penman said delivering in the Baby-Friendly High River Hospital made for a positive experience. “The experience has been amazing. They’re just willing to let you be. They had the teachers and the guidance to actually help you learn how to breastfeed properly — what it’s supposed to look like, what it’s supposed to feel like, that sort of thing.”
There are currently nine Baby-Friendly hospitals in Canada, including one hospital in Vancouver and Saskatchewan, three in Calgary and four in Ontario, with more scheduled to receive the designation over the next decade.