Hospital now more breastfeed friendly

ANN-LOUISE Huth has spent the past 18 months working towards making Hervey Bay Hospital one of 12 hospitals in Queensland that is accredited under the World Health Organisation’s Baby Friendly Health Initiative.

The Baby Friendly Health Initiative ensures that mums and babies are supported in their efforts to breastfeed.

To achieve the accreditation, Ms Huth had to implement the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding and although the hospital was already following many of the steps, one in particular was hugely significant in changing the way the hospital operated.

That was step four – place babies in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately following birth for at least an hour and encourage mothers to recognise when their babies are ready to breastfeed, offering help if needed.

Ms Huth said before the steps were implemented and followed, the practice of the hospital was to get mum and baby in and out of the delivery suite as quickly as possible.

She said the new practice not only helped mums to breastfeed but also helped develop relationships between families.

The hospital received its accreditation after inspectors assessed and interviewed nurses and mums.

The new Wide Bay Health District CEO Ken Whelan was also on hand to see the plaque presented. The accreditation will be valid for three years at the hospital and then the staff will be assessed again, which means the initiative was an ongoing process for the hospital.

Ms Huth said the new practices meant more mums were breastfeeding as they were not being presented with inaccurate or contradictory advice on breastfeeding.

Mums were also in an environment that was much more conducive to breastfeeding – but if they were unable to, there was also no pressure to continue.

“The initiative does not force or coerce mums to breastfeed,” she said. “It offers help and support and the mother’s choice is supported.”