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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

A few days ago, I spoke with a prospective client about her hospital’s efforts to earn the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation. She said the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) requirements had her hospital “stuck.” I hear this often when I speak with hospital personnel. It is 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

I find three common sticking points for hospitals and other groups when they try to gain Baby-Friendly Hospital designation. Over decades of working with organizations on system-level change, I see:

  • 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.

With a little humor, I could probably put my consultancy to music from The Wizard of Oz. “Because, because, because, because, because…” That would be perfect. After all, part of my role is to help healthcare providers see that they have what they need — brain, heart, and courage — when establishing a baby-friendly “home” (away from home).

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

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