The choice of how you feed your baby is yours, and you will be supported every step of the way. Choosing to breastfeed can be an extremely rewarding experience for you, and the health benefits are significant for both you and your baby. It is important to remember that while breastfeeding is natural, it’s a learning experience and takes practice and patience. If you’re planning to breastfeed, our staff of well-trained nurses, lactation counselors and lactation consultants offer lactation support 24 hours a day. To support the recommended practice of feeding your baby whenever he/she is hungry, rather than on a fixed schedule (“breastfeeding on demand”), we encourage you to keep your newborn in your room as much as possible during your stay.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
UMCP is in the process of applying for Baby Friendly Designation. Baby Friendly is a global program to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding. The core components of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative are the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is communicated to all staff.
- Train staff to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation when separated from their infant.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically necessary.
- Practice rooming-in: allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Avoid giving pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups.
The Importance of 24-Hour Rooming In
We believe that the parents are the primary caretakers of normal, healthy newborns and the medical personnel are here to assist you and teach you the skills you will need to take your baby home. Rooming-in allows parents and their baby to get to know each other and to get in harmony with each other. This also provides parents with the opportunity to learn your baby’s feeding cues. Babies awaken and begin these cues in several ways. Often they will look around, lick their lips and put their fingers or fist to their mouth. You may also observe the “rooting reflex” in your baby, which is a wide opening of the mouth and turning the head back and forth as if looking for a nipple. When your baby cries, he or she is giving you a very late feeding cue, usually after there has been no response to other cues. For a successful feeding, it is best not to miss this window of opportunity.
It is important for parents to understand their infant’s sleep patterns before going home and it is also important to learn the calming techniques that will help to settle your baby back to sleep. Rooming-in parents are well on their way to achieving two important goals of parenting: to know their baby well and to help their baby feel content.
Harmony between infants and their parents is is very individual. Schedules are rigid, and harmony is flexible. Harmony means parent and baby arrive at a “schedule” that is mutually agreeable and not determined by the hospital staff members. Parents get a feeling of rightness when they are in sync with their baby.
Your baby has spent nine months in your womb listening to your heartbeat, breathing and voice. After birth, these are the same things that provide a sense of security and comfort to your baby. It is unrealistic to expect that a newborn baby will be more content in a crib separated from their mother. Babies miss the womb, and skin-to-skin contact with mom is very reassuring.
For breastfeeding mothers and babies, there is also a release of milk producing hormones when the baby gives feeding cues. With 24-hour rooming-in, it has been found that mother’s milk is produced in greater volume 24 to 48 hours sooner than in mothers who are separated from their infants. Breastfed infants should only have one five-hour interval of sleep in a 24-hour day and this does not usually occur at night during the first several weeks. It has also been documented in research that there are fewer incidents of breastfeeding problems such as sore nipples and engorgement for women who take advantage of 24-hour rooming-in. Milk-producing hormones are also higher during the evening and night hours and these feedings are important in the long-term success of breastfeeding.
Parents are the most concerned and observant caregivers in the world and with the time spent learning from the nursing staff with the baby in your room, you will go home confident and secure in the knowledge that you know your baby well and are comfortable with caring for him or her.
Please ask for help anytime you need it. The call button on your remote will alert your RN that you need assistance.