Don't Dare Stand between a Mother Bear and her Cub!

Sally is a busy lady in our community. If something needs to be done, call Sally! It was no surprise, then, that when Sally came to see me after her first prenatal visit, she had some new and important questions.

"Why don't we have one of those 'Baby-Friendly Hospitals' in our area?" she queried. "I've been trying to decide which hospital I want to have my baby in, and not a single one around here is 'Baby-Friendly'!"

She's right. We live is a huge tri-city area with six large hospitals within 20 miles of one another, but none have sought the prestigious and important "Baby-Friendly" credential.

Created by UNICEF and the World Health Organization in 1995, this designation identifies hospitals that demonstrate their commitment to breastfeeding by taking ten logical steps including: educating the staff about breastfeeding, developing a breastfeeding policy, giving no formula supplements (unless medically indicated), practicing rooming-in (having the mother and baby sleep in the same room), etc. But perhaps most important of all, "Baby-Friendly" hospitals agree to stop giving out formula in those so-called "gift packages for new moms." Research shows that these "gifts" of formula contribute to women giving up breastfeeding. A "Baby-Friendly" hospital has to be willing to pull this financial plug.

"Write 'em a letter, call the hospital, tell your OB, your pediatrician, and your friends!" I remark. And when Sally takes these actions, she will join other dedicated lactation consultants, nurses, and parents who understand that breast milk is best for babies and that new moms deserve the best help available as they learn to breastfeed.

Everyone knows not to stand in the way of a mother bear and her cub. Hospitals better watch out! I've seen Sally in action. She will fight to make breastfeeding support available for herself, her baby and other young families in our community.