Hospital Policies and Breastfeeding
It is important to have breastfeeding support from your doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who care for you and your baby. Fortunately, most people involved in health care are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. Before having your baby, research the breastfeeding policies at your hospital of choice. Look at policies related to:
- The first feeding. Unless your baby is born needing immediate medical care, it is best to begin breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth. Also, immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby after delivery may help promote long-term and successful breastfeeding.
- "Rooming in," which encourages having your baby in the room with you. This policy usually allows more frequent breastfeeding.
- Supplemental feedings. Tell the hospital staff that your baby is to be exclusively breastfed from birth, unless supplementation is medically needed. If hospital staff feed your baby water, sugar solution, or formula immediately after birth without a medical reason, it may make it harder for you to establish breastfeeding.
- Pacifiers or artificial nipples. Hospital staff should not give your newborn these items. They may interfere with breastfeeding.
- Follow-up. Find out whether your hospital can help you with breastfeeding issues after you go home. Personal visits by a lactation consultant are best. Assistance and advice given over the phone also is helpful. See if you can get information on breastfeeding support groups or other contacts, just in case you need help establishing and continuing your breastfeeding routine.
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