Florida Department of Health in Broward County Helping Hospitals Become “Baby Friendly”

BROWARD COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Broward County has launched a project to help eight birthing hospitals become “Baby Friendly” – meaning they more strongly encourage new mothers to breastfeed their newborns.

Each of the eight hospitals receives a $10,000 state grant to change policies and procedures in order to get better at promoting the benefits of breastfeeding, and also to teach new mothers to overcome problems and misconceptions that discourage them from nursing.

“Hospitals play an important role in ensuring that mothers have the information, support and skills to make an informed decision when it comes to breastfeeding,” says Dr. Paula Thaqi, Director of DOH-Broward.

The grants come from the state’s Healthiest Weight program, and go to 27 hospitals in 15 counties that are embracing the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. The campaign started small in Europe in 1991 and has grown worldwide.

breastfeedingResearch shows that mothers who breastfeed their children are at a healthier weight than average, and also have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Children who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, asthma, obesity, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome.

The local project is led by Esther March Singleton of DOH-Broward’s Women, Infants and Children program. The project will help hospitals adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” that birthing locations must follow to win the Baby Friendly designation.

“The 10 steps consist of evidence-based practices shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration,” Singleton says. Hospitals must:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy.
  2. Train all health care staff about the policy and skills needed to carry it out.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers start breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if separated from their babies.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically needed.
  7. Practice “rooming in,” which lets mothers and infants remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to newborns.
  10. Help start breastfeeding support groups and refer new mothers to them.

The hospitals also are encouraged to stop putting samples of formula in the “goodie bags” they give to new mothers.

Participating hospitals are Broward Health Coral Springs, Broward Health Medical Center, Holy Cross, Memorial Regional, Memorial West, Memorial Miramar, Plantation General and Northwest Medical Center.




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The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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