Hospital policies and breast-feeding

It is important to have breast-feeding 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 breast-feeding. Before having your baby, research the breast-feeding 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 breast-feeding within 1 hour of birth. Also, immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby after delivery may help promote long-term and successful breast-feeding.
  • "Rooming in," which encourages having your baby in the room with you. This policy usually allows more frequent breast-feeding.
  • Supplemental feedings. Inform the hospital staff that your baby is to be exclusively breast-fed from birth, unless supplementation is medically necessary. 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 breast-feeding.
  • Pacifiers or artificial nipples. Hospital staff should not give your newborn pacifiers or related items without your permission. They may interfere with breast-feeding.
  • Follow-up. Find out whether your hospital can help you with breast-feeding issues once 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 breast-feeding support groups or other contacts should you need help establishing and continuing your breast-feeding routine.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

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