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Debunking Birthing Procedures

For many, the term 'Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative' is unfamiliar.

What does 'baby friendly' even mean? You aren't alone in your confusion, in fact most people--- besides those that work closely with the birthing floor of a hospital-- probably are unaware of what that term even means.

The language 'Baby Friendly' is used to attract future parents to facilities that supports the best/most current birthing practices.

After all, why wouldn't you want to give birth in a hospital that is friendly for babies? Or, should we say, why would you want to give birth to your baby in a hospital that isn't baby friendly?

This language does a good job and steering families into these hospitals, but what exactly is 'baby friendly'?

The second purpose for this language is to set apart hospitals that promote the "10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding". If followed, these steps will help a hospital promote exclusive breastfeeding and early initiation (of breastfeeding).

But why does this matter to you as the mother?

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to prevent illness and disease in your newborn baby. 'Baby Friendly' hospitals do their best to help initiate breastfeeding early on-- rather than prolonging the process --- creating stress for both YOU and YOUR BAB.Y

It should be in public records that hospitals are baby-friendly ---many hospitals advertise also it-- so head on to Google and find a 'Baby Friendly' hospital near YOU!

What are these "10-Steps"?

They are as follows:

"1. Have a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents.

2. Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding.

3. Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.

4. Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.

5. Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.

6. Do not provide breastfed newborns any food or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

7. Enable mothers and their infants to remain together and to practice rooming-in 24 hours a day.

8. Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding.

9. Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.

10. Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care."

After all of that, what is stopping some hospitals from making this transition?

Many hospitals are stuck in their current procedures and 'ways' -- therefore stopping them from creating positive change.

These hospitals are holding themselves AND their patients back --- and creating a stagnant, dated environment that does not cater to current mother's needs.

Many of these procedures come in between necessary skin to skin contact that must be achieved within the first hour after. This is necessary for the baby to move through the stages of initiating the first breastfeeding session. Learn more about this topic here!


If the baby does not cry immediately, many doctors will suction a baby's lungs as well as make them cry. Your baby should have what is called 'the birth cry' where their lungs expand and they take in their first breath, however, some babies do not. This does not mean there is something wrong, many can clear out any mucus from the lungs, until then you can rub their back until they do. This allows your baby to be tummy to tummy while working through this. They are less likely to be anxious and more likely to figure out what they need to do because they are comfortable with you!

Another procedure is cord clamping and cutting. A widely used practice that can potentially harm your baby more than helpif initiated too early.

When you delay this cord clamping, you not only allow the baby to be tummy to tummy, but your baby can still receive vital nutrients from the placenta. These nutrients include IRON. This exchange of iron could be the difference between a healthy baby and an iron deficient baby in months to come.

When doctors are ready to take sample blood from the umbilical cord, they can do this all while your baby is on you. If trained well, the nurse or other provider should be able to complete all tests without disturbing your baby.

Lastly, the vitamin K ointment that they rub on you baby's eyes can be delayed without any adverse effects so as to not blur their vision during skin to skin. We want your little one to SEE their beautiful Mama!

In conclusion ...

While there are many other procedures that occur post-delivery, you get the picture. Not all of these procedures are bad either---some are lifesaving! Reasons as to why they are done so early and with urgency. Please keep in mind, as we mentioned, many can either be delayed or done with your baby on you!

Discuss with your obstetrician what their procedures are and look for a baby friendly facility to give you and your baby the best chance at a successful birth and introduction to breastfeeding!.

If you feel like this was helpful information and want to learn more ---OR your head is spinning and need some clarifications, you aren't alone! This exact reason is why Mamas Maternal Health was founded--to help you sort through all of the information and figure out what it all means to YOU and your STORY! Feel free to contact us here, and we would be happy to talk with you today!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


Boston Women's Health Book Collective. (2008). Our bodies, ourselves: Pregnancy and birth. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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