LiveSmart: Think “Baby-Friendly” When Welcoming Your New Baby

[This piece was written by Carla Barberis-Ryan, MHSA, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director, Women’s & Children’s Services at St. Peter’s Hospital.]

People who became parents in previous generations probably wouldn’t recognize the maternity area in a hospital today. Today it’s commonplace to see partners or other family members in the labor and delivery room, coaching the expectant mom-to-be alongside the doctors, nurses and other caregivers. It is an exciting moment, welcoming a new baby into the family, and it requires a team effort!

For expectant moms, determining who will be a part of that team is a big decision. Choosing the right caregivers and location for your birth can be difficult, but knowing what to look for makes the process easier. A good place to start is to ask if the hospital you are considering is “Baby-Friendly.”

The prestigious “Baby-Friendly” designation is awarded by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. as part of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991, the global initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

St. Peter’s Hospital, an affiliate of St. Peter’s Health Partners, was recently named as the first hospital in the Capital Region to earn the international “Baby-Friendly” designation. It is one of only three hospitals in Upstate New York and among 387 hospitals and birth center across the United States to hold the Baby-Friendly designation.

The designation is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which was developed by a team of global experts and consists of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive a Baby-Friendly designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

For more information on Baby Friendly USA, please visit:

For information on delivering a baby at St. Peter’s Hospital, as well as information on lactation support groups, breastfeeding classes, infant care, or parenting classes, please call (518) 525-1388 or visit


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