BROOKINGS – Brookings Health System recently achieved the highly prestigious international Baby-Friendly Re-Designation after a rigorous review process conducted by Baby-Friendly USA, the organization responsible for bestowing this certification in the United States.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) program that encourages and recognizes hospitals that promote and support breastfeeding. This includes hospital policies, practices, and staff, physician, and community education. To achieve Baby-Friendly designation, Brookings Health System implemented policies following the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals and Birth Centers as outlined by UNICEF and WHO.
“We’re proud to be one of only two Baby-Friendly Designated hospitals in the state and the only one east of the Missouri River,” said Obstetrics Director Mary Schwaegerl. “We know the hospital experience strongly influences a mother’s ability to start and to continue breastfeeding. Our New Beginnings Birth Center team is committed to implementing evidence-based care to ensure mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed, as well as those who cannot or decide not to breastfeed, are fully supported.”
The positive health effects of breastfeeding are well documented and widely recognized by health authorities throughout the world. UNICEF, WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and many other national and international health agencies recommend mothers breastfeed babies exclusively for the first six months of life. The U.S. Surgeon General’s 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding stated, “Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.”
Brookings Health System became the first non-Indian Health Services hospital in South Dakota to receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation in 2015. In 2019, Brookings Health was the only organization in South Dakota to earn the IBCLC Care Award for excellence in lactation care and providing lactation programming for breastfeeding families. More information on how Brookings Health System supports nursing moms and babies can be found at brookingshealth.org/breastfeeding.