When it comes to feeding an infant, mothers make decisions based on a complex set of factors, from education they receive to their medical condition after delivery. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a new designation recognizes the hospital’s emphasis on evidence-based, patient-centered care and education as mothers make these choices and learn to feed their infants.

The Brigham joins 550 hospitals and birthing centers nationwide with Baby-Friendly Hospital designation, an initiative launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Specifically, the designation recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that provide mothers with the information, confidence, and skills to successfully breastfeed or safely feed their babies with sterile formula that meets the babies’ nutritional needs.

To be recognized as Baby-Friendly, a hospital must adhere to evidence-based practices outlined by WHO and UNICEF that increase breastfeeding initiation and duration, and/or guide how hospitals obtain infant formula. The guidelines also encourage “rooming-in,” which enhances mother-infant bonding by encouraging mothers to keep their babies in-room as much as possible.

The Brigham was recognized as a Baby-Friendly Hospital in January 2019, following evidence-based practice changes embraced by nurses at the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns, and a visit from the Baby-Friendly program’s accrediting body last fall.

“This milestone builds upon our foundation of excellence in maternal and infant care, dating back to 1832 with the opening of our predecessor hospital, the Boston Lying-in, as one of the nation’s first maternity hospitals,” says Maddy Pearson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services. “We join other Baby-Friendly Hospitals in leading the way to ensure that mothers are equipped to safely and successfully meet their infants’ nutritional needs, whether that means breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination.”

Read more on the Brigham’s commitment to supporting mother- and baby-friendly feeding practices here.

Topics: Patient Experience, Academic Medical Centers

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