What is a “Baby Friendly” Hospital?

photo credit: victoryrosephotography

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

You’ve learned about all the benefits of breastfeeding. You bought all your neat breastfeeding accessories, and breastpump. You are so ready for this! But wait. One more thing…is your maternity birth facility “Baby Friendly?” Where you deliver your little angel can impact your breastfeeding relationship long term and can even increase your chances of being successful. Read on as we share the facts about The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and why it’s important for you to be informed.

What is the BFHI?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative that was created in 1991 in response to lactation policy makers and the urgent need for better breastfeeding practices worldwide. BFHI was launched by UNICEF and The World Health Organization to ensure maternity facilities around the world become centers for breastfeeding support. BFHI mandates the implementing of tools and materials such as Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Hospitals that meet the global criteria and complete an external assessment of implementation receive the designation of “Baby Friendly.”

Why “Baby Friendly?”

If you are committed to breastfeeding and don’t have a lot of support, delivering at a designated baby friendly facility will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start. Baby-Friendly designated hospitals foster a supportive breastfeeding environment with practices such as: initiating breastfeeding within one hour after delivery, keeping mommy and baby together by “rooming in”, no offering of pacifiers or bottles unless medically necessary, and sharing of support resources at discharge. All hospital staff working with mothers and babies are required to take a breastfeeding class to be able to offer support. In the event that mother and baby are separated because of an unforeseen circumstance or emergency, mothers are taught how to maintain lactation during this time. Baby-friendly practices are evidence-based and allow for the very best start to the breastfeeding journey.

Where can I find a Baby-Friendly Facility?

Since its inception, over 15,000 facilities have been designated “Baby Friendly” in 134 countries. Specifically, in the US, there are currently 534 baby-friendly hospitals. In the areas where BFHI has been implemented breastfeeding rates are on the rise and in turn, provide long-term benefits to child health. Updates on BFHI as well as other effective breastfeeding programs are currently published and archived by UNICEF.

Are you pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant? It’s never too early to get informed and be prepared. Locate the nearest Baby Friendly Hospital near you here. Surrounding yourself with education and support resources from the beginning will set you up for success. Our IBCLCs are always available to answer your breastfeeding questions, offer advice and provide encouragement. At Spectra Baby USA we believe in breastfeeding and we believe in you!

Pumping 101: How to Pump Breastmilk

By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC

The first few weeks after your baby finally arrives is the time to soak in those yummy newborn snuggles. You shouldn’t have to worry about pumping, just yet. But when you are ready, you might pump for reasons like going back to work, a weekend get-a-away, low milk supply, special circumstances with baby, or simply “my nipples just really need a break.”  It’s best to wait until 4 to 6 weeks postpartum to start pumping; however pumping can be a lifesaver when you want a freezer stash of milk for returning to work or important “mommy time” away from baby!  Depending on your personal needs, you might need to pump occasionally or around the clock. Regardless of your reasons, one thing is for sure: pumping will allow your baby to continue receiving all those valuable immunological benefits that breast milk provides.

Below are 5 basic facts you need to know about getting started!

  1. Choosing the right breast pump

There are a few basic types of pumps: manual pumps, battery operated pumps and electrical pumps. Each of these pumps extracts milk by providing a seal around your nipple and areola while it applies and releases suction as baby would do at the breast. Suction strength and cycle speed will vary depending on the type of breast pump and whether you are single pumping (one breast) or double pumping (both breasts at once). If you are returning to work or exclusively pumping, a double electric breast pump will yield the best results. You can learn more about finding the perfect Spectra Baby USA hospital strength breast pump here.

Finding the right size flange is an important part of the pumping process.  A flange that doesn’t fit properly could leave you with nipple pain, redness, and full breasts. Yikes!  No worries, it’s easy to measure your nipples using this  breastshield guide that you can print out. This will save you time and stress with wondering whether or not you have the correct flange fit.

  1. When should I start pumping?

If baby is growing well and has unlimited access to the breast, there is no need to start pumping right away. Pumping can add another layer to your busy day and if breastfeeding is going well, no need to hook up the pump just yet. Waiting 6-8 weeks is best. You could even start sooner if you are returning to work around 4 weeks after birth, but keep in mind the very early weeks are for establishing your milk supply, bonding and nursing, not pumping. These guidelines are for healthy full-term infants. There are instances where pumping will be critical right from the start like with preterm infants or when medical conditions have been presented.

Start with a short pumping session about 5 to 7 minutes after the morning or evening nursing session. You will still have plenty of time to build a nice freezer stash for when you are away. Moms are often surprised at how much milk they can store in just a few short weeks! Start with pumping once a day at first and then gradually increase sessions according to your breastfeeding goals.

  1. Now Let’s Get Pumping!

Wash your hands with warm soapy water, gather your pump and accessories, and find a comfy place to relax. Don’t watch the collection bottles slowly fill up drop by drop! Instead, watch a video of your baby or listen to music! This can help you feel more at ease and allow your milk to start flowing freely. Research shows moms can yield about 30% more milk when stimulating their breasts while pumping. Using a hands free bra will allow for easier “hands on pumping.” Massaging and compressing your breasts while expressing will help you get the most out of your pumping session. It’s recommended to pump for a total of 15-20 min or 5-7 minutes after that last drop.

  1. How much milk should I be pumping?

The newborn belly is super tiny. Studies show exclusively breastfed babies from 1 to 6 months old will consume an average of 25 ounces per day. Depending if you are pumping for a missed feeding or pumping in between feedings you can expect to pump roughly 1.5 – 4 ounces. At first, when your production is ramping up, expect to pump less milk. It takes time and practice to get your body to respond to the pump just like when you were learning to breastfeed.

  1. Clean. Store. Prepare.

The CDC recommends sterilizing all your pump parts for the very first time before initial use. No need to sterilize the tubing since it will never come in contact with your milk with your pump! Have a designated bin to wash your pump accessories after each use in warm soapy water and then air dry on a clean dish or paper towel. Using non-antibacterial soap is ideal to use to ensure you aren’t leaving any film on the flanges that can inhibit the natural secretion of your montgomery glands on your areola.

Keep your liquid gold safe for baby by adhering to the CDC guidelines for storing and preparing expressed breast milk.

Between breastfeeding, changing diapers, building baby gear, and managing all the visitors wanting to get a glimpse of your fresh bundle of joy (but seriously have a plan in place on handling visitors) you will have a full plate. Pumping really doesn’t have to be an additional item on your to-do list. During those sacred early weeks, concentrate on skin to skin and directly feeding your baby at the breast as much as possible.

Leave us your comments below and share your story with us!

What To Do When The Witching Hour Hits

The witching hour is a phrase used for an inconsolable baby typically between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, despite every effort to calm them.  It was originally a phrase used in the middle of the night when paranormal activity was most expected. For any mom that has experienced their baby during “witching hour”, this original idea isn’t far-fetched!  This can be a very trying time of day for mom, baby, and family when everyone is returning home from their busy days and everyone could use some relaxation time.

Tips for Dealing with ‘Witching Hour’

    1. Decrease baby’s stimulation.   By the end of the day, baby might just need a rain check from all the excitement. Put them in a nearby dim or quiet room and try to play soothing music or white noise.
    2. Feed on demand or cluster feed. Milk supply is lowest in the evenings.  The best way to make sure your breasts are keeping up with baby’s demand is to try to feed them whenever they are giving you hunger cues.   This will help boost your supply for the evening times in the future, keeping them well fed and happy.
    3. Put them to bed earlier.  Your baby may simply need to go to bed as early as 6 pm to prevent getting overtired.  Keeping them awake to get them to sleep through the night can backfire since it leaves them fussy and unable to calm themselves down for the night.
  • Let them nap more during the day.  Again, trying to keep babies awake to sleep better later does not typically work.  Putting them down for more frequent naps during the day may help combat end of the day overstimulation.  Since witching hour most commonly starts at 6 weeks, remember that most babies this age still need up to 16 hours of sleep per day!  
  1. Ask for help.  If you are feeling stressed, either directly from a fussy baby or from outside stressors (work, family life, etc.), make sure you’re asking for help.  Chances are if you’re feeling stressed your baby is picking up on that and making (or maybe even causing) the situation worse. This might mean getting help around the house so you can focus on baby more at the end of day or getting some personal time away from baby.  Do what will help you manage your own stress and recharge!
  2. Try soothing techniques. Find what works for your baby such as a warm bath, magic hold, a warm bath,  skin to skin snuggles, pacifier, singing, walking, rocking, vibrations and white noise.
  3. Talk to a specialist about your milk supply.  On average, breastfed babies need about 25 ounces of milk per day.  This can be hard to judge if you’re exclusively breastfeeding but totally feasible if you are pumping by tracking their intake.  If you’re concerned your baby is truly frustrated due to low milk supply, try boosting it. Start with these basic tips here.

If you are concerned there is something more going on talk to your pediatrician to rule out other potential issues like reflux or allergies. It can be hard to imagine while in the thick of it, but remember this is just a phase.  Try not to wish away those first few months because of witching hour and enjoy all the little moments. Before you know it, baby will be grown and you’ll be an empty nester. For more baby and mom support check out Spectra Baby USA’s blog here.  

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