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University of Minnesota Health has much to celebrate during World Breastfeeding Week

University of Minnesota Medical Center and University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital were the first hospitals in the Twin Cities to adopt UNICEF and WHO’s Ten Steps to Breastfeeding Success.
University of Minnesota Masonic Children
University of Minnesota Medical Center and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital were the first facilities in the Twin Cities to be designated as Baby-Friendly by Baby-Friendly USA.
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University of Minnesota Medical Center and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital were the first facilities in the Twin Cities to be designated as Baby-Friendly by Baby-Friendly USA. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative as a way of recognizing hospitals and birthing centers that take specific steps to support breastfeeding.

“Studies show that if a baby has a good start to breastfeeding while in the hospital, the success rate for exclusive breastfeeding increases dramatically,” said Deb DeMarais, MD, a physician executive for University of Minnesota Health mothers and children's services. “We are dedicated to helping mothers feel confident in breastfeeding as they leave the hospital.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for roughly the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year as solid foods are introduced.

Facilities designated as Baby-Friendly by WHO must adhere to the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which were developed by a team of global experts as evidence-based practices that increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.

Baby-Friendly hospitals must:

  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.

“We are dedicated to helping mothers feel confident in breastfeeding,” DeMarais said. “Our goal is to create an optimal environment for breastfeeding during a mom and infant’s short stay in the hospital after delivery.”

World Breastfeeding Week is observed on August 1 – 7. 

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