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The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global initiative of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, was first launched in 1991. The initiative’s goal is to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies through breast-feeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding by recognizing birthing facilities that successfully implement 10 steps to successful breast-feeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
Huntersville Medical Center is staffed with lactation consultants and support staff whose role is to assist mothers in gaining the skills and confidence they need to breast-feed. Other primary practices of Baby-Friendly hospitals include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns immediately after birth, and keeping babies in their mothers’ room during their stay in the hospital. Both encourage bonding and improve the newborn’s ability to breast-feed. Studies also show that immediate skin-to-skin contact helps newborns to maintain their temperatures, normalize their heart rate and reduce their likeliness of crying.
Research shows that breast-fed babies reap medical benefits, including a lower risk of a wealth of chronic and acute conditions. Since 1990, breast-feeding rates in the U.S. have been rising steadily, as about 81 percent of mothers have started out breast-feeding according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card. For optimum growth and development, it is recommended that moms breast-feed exclusively until babies are six months old, and continue until at least their first birthday, according to the American Association of Pediatrics.
Huntersville Medical Center joins Novant Health Charlotte-area hospitals that have been designated Baby-Friendly: Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and Novant Health Matthews Medical Center.