My friend, visiting a relative in Beilinson hospital in Petach Tikva, saw a series of posters promoting the women’s center there. Each poster contained a photo of a patient along with a quote from a staff member. Under the photo of a newborn baby, with an adult’s hand placing a pacifier in its mouth, the following caption appeared: ×ª× ×™ ×œ× ×—×•× ×•××”×‘×” ×•×× ×—× ×• × ×™×ª×Ÿ ××ª ×”×©××¨. “Give him warmth and love and I will take care of the rest.” The quote is from Bracha Gal, head of the nursing department.
How exactly is a mother supposed to give warmth and love to a baby when she is separated from him? The head of the nursing department should know that pacifiers for newborns interfere with breastfeeding and are against the recommendations of the Israeli Health Ministry and the World Health Organization. How much warmth and love can one or two staff members give to a nursery full of screaming babies? Babies, especially newborns, belong with their mothers.
As a breastfeeding counselor, I deal with the aftermath of poor hospital policy (to be fair I don’t always hear the success stories) and everything the baby has been “given” by the hospital staff including unnecessary formula, pacifiers, denial of access to his mother, and poor breastfeeding advice. The results are often jaundice, low milk supply, engorgement, sore nipples, and worst of all –exemplified by the poster’s caption–loss of a mother’s confidence in her ability to nurture her baby.
Now is time for Israeli hospitals to get on board with the UNICEF/World Health Organization’ s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Here are the ten required steps:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
No Israeli hospital currently meets these standards.