Babies who are breastfed are generally healthier and achieve optimal growth and development compared to those who are fed formula milk.
If the vast majority of babies were exclusively fed breast milk in their first six months of life – meaning only breast milk and no other liquids or solids, not even water – it is estimated that the lives of at least 1.2 million children would be saved every year. If children continue to be breastfed up to two years and beyond, the health and development of millions of children would be greatly improved.
Infants who are not breastfed are at an increased risk of illness that can compromise their growth and raise the risk of death or disability. Breastfed babies receive protection from illnesses through the mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding is the natural and recommended way of feeding all infants, even when artificial feeding is affordable, clean water is available, and good hygienic conditions for preparing and feeding infant formula exist.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is an effort by UNICEF and the WHO (World Health Organization) to designate maternity facilities as ‘baby-friendly’ by ensuring they do not accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats and have implemented 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding:
Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming-in – allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
The San Pedro Jose L. Amante Emergency Hospital was certified “Mother Baby Friendly Hospital” by representatives from UNICEF and WHO (World Health Organization) last May 12, 2016. Dr. Dale Atayan and Dr. Rene Bagamasbad (Laguna Provincial Health Officers) represented the Provincial Health Office during the ceremonies.