I remember walking to my neighborhood hospital with my father specifically to “baby watch.” We would look through the nursery windows at rows of babies; some screaming, some sleeping … all beautiful. And although that is a fond childhood memory for me, we have learned that wasn’t the best thing for the babies. We have learned babies need to be with their mothers; hearing, smelling, feeling her, as mother and baby get to know one another.
Fortunately for breastfeeding mothers and babies, in 1991 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) created a global initiative to recognize hospitals that provided optimal lactation support to its mothers and babies. The breastfeeding initiative is known as Baby-Friendly, and hospitals all over the world are working diligently to achieve this level of care and give mothers the very best start on their breastfeeding journey.
If you had a baby a couple of years ago, things will be a little different for you today as you deliver your new baby at Spartanburg Medical Center. We are confident you will love the changes:
Immediately, upon your baby’s birth he or she will be placed skin-to-skin on your bare chest as a warm blanket is placed over you both. This practice is known as skin-to-skin and has been proven to be the absolute best place for your new baby to transition into this world. It will calm your baby faster, stabilize their heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and allow your baby to orient him or herself to being outside of the womb. They will remain skin-to-skin with you until after their first feeding. Skin-to-skin doesn’t just have to be mom; partners are encouraged to practice skin-to-skin as well and it should be continued throughout your hospitalization and after you go home.
The time from delivery to the time your baby goes to the breast for the first time is hugely important to breastfeeding success. We work hard to protect this time for you. Visitors (besides your spouse/partner) will be asked to refrain from visiting during your recovery period, which lasts two hours after birth. Research tells us that keeping mom and baby together 24 hours a day improves lactation success, improves bonding and incredibly provides both mom and baby with a more sound sleep.
Keeping parents and their babies together is known as “rooming-in”. This means your baby stays in the room with you, rather than being taken to a nursery. The first couple of days with your new baby will be devoted to getting to know your new baby and getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
No Visitors, Please
Well-meaning family and friends will want to visit you in the hospital, but they will not be up all night with a brand-new baby. Encourage family and friends to visit you once you have been discharged home. You will be up every couple hours, around the clock, to feed your baby. You will need to nap during the day to make up for the nighttime interruptions.
Hold the Pacifier
Another step of Baby Friendly is to wait until breastfeeding is well established before introducing a pacifier. True breastfeeding establishment usually occurs within four to six weeks. At this point, it is encouraged to offer your baby a pacifier when you are putting them down to sleep. Pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Before breastfeeding is well established, however, babies who are given pacifiers gain less weight, and their mothers have a reduced milk volume. It is easy to give a fussy baby a pacifier, and although they may seem soothed, they may also be hungry and are being pacified without receiving any nutrition.
Eat on Demand
I’m sure you have heard how important it is to get your baby “on a schedule”. That may be true for an older baby, but not for a newborn whose tummy is the size of a cherry and certainly cannot go long periods without eating. It’s important to watch your baby, not the clock, to know when it’s time to feed. Hunger cues are important to learn: sucking on hands, rooting (turning mouth towards stimuli), stirring, turning head to one side, and general increase in body movement are all signs that your baby is hungry and needs to be fed. Crying is a late sign of hunger and ideally your baby should be fed before this point. You should feed your baby eight to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Your baby may feed every 60 or 90 minutes for a few feedings and then go five to six hours in-between the next feeding. Babies vary and learning how your baby likes to feed will be part of the “getting to know you” time in the hospital.
We know that all the changes can be overwhelming so don’t worry, we have experienced, expert clinical staff to help guide you through this new and exciting time in your life. We are excited about your upcoming delivery and can’t wait to meet your bundle of joy!