Delhi Govt: Drive the ‘Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’ to enable best mother-baby care

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“I was robbed of the precious first moments with my baby. The hospital’s staff whisked my baby away immediately after birth, kept her away and fed her formula milk without my consent. 

This disturbed my baby’s instincts to latch and breastfeeding became hard. We were denied the many benefits that come when a new-born feels the comfort of her mother near her. This terribly mismanaged start by the hospital pushed us into a vicious cycle of bottle feeding, low milk production, self doubt and anxiety.

These words by Ashima, a new mother, echo in my ears. In my work as a birth educator and doula, I support families during childbirth and this is a very common story. As a mother myself, this makes me terribly sad.

I strongly believe that it is high time we improve the way we receive babies and support mothers, with a simple solution: “Baby Friendly Hospitals”. That is why I have started this campaign.

In my work experience, I find that almost all mothers, doctors and even the government understand the benefits of immediate exclusive breastfeeding.

  • Immediate skin to skin contact with mothers helps babies feel safe and ready to adapt to life outside the womb. 
  • WHO says breastfeeding within the first hour gives the infant the best chance of survival.
  • It triggers in the mother the natural ‘mothering hormones’ that make her feel attached to the baby and produce milk. 
  • It also reduces her chances of post-birth complications, long-term illnesses and postpartum depression.
     

This basic practice followed by traditional cultures across the world for centuries, is backed by plenty of evidence. But things have changed in the last few decades. The emphasis on hospital-based births, which has its own merits, has sadly ushered in practices that disrupt the vital mother-baby bond.

This is because hospital staff in India do not have the right training on how to support new mothers. Hospital policies and protocols only make it harder. Mothers are misguided, put in self doubt, and often coerced into ‘giving-up’.

As I live in the national capital, where official data shows that 2 out of 3 babies aren’t being breastfed in the first hour, I want the Delhi Government to take the lead. 

If you too want all babies to thrive and not just survive, join me in asking for a change now. 

Sign my petition asking the Delhi government to implement the Baby-Friendly Initiative started by UNICEF and WHO. It is an accreditation program for hospitals to improve care by:

  1. Setting standards - for better hospital protocols 
  2. Providing staff training and support - to implement these standards 
  3. Assessing progress - of health professionals and interviewing mothers to hear about their experiences 

To become designated as a ‘Baby-Friendly Hospital’, hospitals will need to adhere to the Ten steps to successful breastfeeding

The government of India under the National Health Mission has displayed its commitment to promoting breastfeeding. However, all efforts will fail if the right support is not offered from the beginning, at the birth facility.

I believe that if the Delhi government could revolutionise schools, it can do the same with our maternity hospitals. 

If the government partners with UNICEF to drive the ‘Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’, all maternity hospitals in our nation’s capital will improve services for supporting mothers and babies in the early days after birth.

I am confident that this will influence other states to follow Delhi’s example. Join me today. Sign now.

#BabyFriendlyHospitals #BestStartForEveryChild 

 

Image credit: The Baby Friendly Initiative UNICEF UK