BABY-FRIENDLY INITIATIVE, water birth and Family Centered Cesareans

According to Baby Friendly USA, as of December 2014, Dekalb Medical hospital located in Decatur Georgia official earn the the designation of “Baby Friendly”. Dekalb Medical is the first hospital in Georgia to earn this prestigious designation and only 1 of 227 active Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States!

As if that were not enough, the team at SeeBaby Midwifery will now be attending birth at Dekalb Medical. I spoke with See Baby and they conveyed how excited they are about the move.

One of the conditions of the move was that Dekalb also needed to offer water births and Family-Centered cesareans. (You can read more about Family-Centered cesareans here.) Dr Bootstaylor has confirmed that, “We will be establishing Midwifery care there, as well as a water birth program, Family-Centered cesareans, and a new era at DM.” The See Baby team will officially start attending births at Dekalb Medical on February 14, 2015.

So what does this mean to parents in and around Atlanta? The short answer is that there is one more birth options for families in the metro Atlanta area. By earning the BFHI designation and by offering water births and Family-Centered cesareans, Dekalb Medical is showing the birth community that they are committed to improving maternity care in Atlanta.

So what is the Baby Friendly Initative? Again, according to Baby Friendly USA, “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. It recognizes and awards birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (i) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (ii).” What this really means is that these hospitals (including Dekalb Medical) must support breastfeeding and the mother-baby bonding process.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a 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 birth center.

The World Health Organization has developed their International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes which included 36 different guidelines that also support breastfeeding. These guidelines included such things like, “5.4 – Manufacturers and distributors should not distribute to pregnant women or mothers or infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breast-milk substitutes or bottle-feeding.” and ” 6.2 – No facility of a health care system should be used for the purpose of promoting infant formula or other products within the scope of this Code.” You can ready the whole code here and just know that in the past, companies who sell ‘breast-milk substitutes’ and their accessories have not always used ethical marketing practices so this code was developed to discourage those practices.

At the end of the day, I believe that more choice, especially in regards to health care, is always a good thing. Here is a great big THANK YOU to Dekalb Medical and See Baby Midwifery for going with the evidence and offering Georgians more choices!