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There’s No Place Like a Baby-Friendly Hospital

 Baby-Friendly Hospital designation

“We’re stuck” in the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation process

Awhile ago, I spoke with a nurse about her hospital’s efforts to earn the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation. She said the requirements had her hospital “stuck.” I hear this often when I speak with hospital personnel. It’s something of a song to me now. I find no matter who is “singing,” it tends to have pretty much the same tune, and the same three stanzas.

Sticking points

Over several decades, I’ve seen three common sticking points for hospitals and other groups when they try to gain Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.

  • Institutional factors:The policies, procedures, protocols, structures, norms, values, staff buy-in, etc., aren’t present.
  • Implementation factors: The “structure” is present, but the process can feel cumbersome. “We can’t do X because of Y.” (Sometimes, tough analysis shows this is really, “We think we can’t do X because of Y.” Maybe even “We think we are doing X — but we aren’t.”)
  • Familial factors: The hospital personnel committed to evidence-based practice would do “it” (whatever “it” is) right, but mothers/families want no part of it. “Rooming-in? Noooo, thanks. This is my last night to sleep before I go home!” That kind of thing.

The refrain is always the same: “We’re stuck, we’re stuck, we’re stuck.”

Getting unstuck

As the consultant, it’s my job to sing a new refrain, one of success! I’ve never met a “stuck” hospital that couldn’t — with a bit of critical analysis and careful guidance — become unstuck in gaining Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.

Honestly? The “stuck” refrains could be set to music from The Wizard of Oz. “Because, because, because, because, because…” We’re stuck because of one of those three sticking points.

Here’s hoping that all involved can use what they need — brain, heart, and courage — when establishing a baby-friendly “home”.

And maybe we could all be a bit more like Dorothy! Discover that we’ve had the power all along…

Have you found your hospital stuck during the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation process? Tell me in the comments below!

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