Arizona and Oklahoma now have their first hospitals certified as “baby friendly” by the federal Indian Health Service, which means they support breast-feeding, an important plank of the Let’s Move! in Indian Country program, part of a global initiative linking children’s health and education launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in 1991.
Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Okla., and the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix earned the designation earlier this summer by helping new mothers learn the skills they need to nurse their babies, wrote Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting director of the Rockville, Md.-based Indian Health Service, in a statement.
This includes 10 different practices including: writing a breast-feeding policy; training all health-care staff in the skills necessary to support it; informing pregnant women of such policies; helping mothers initiate breast-feeding within one hour of their baby’s birth; rooming with their babies 24 hours per day and encouraging on-demanding feeding, among others.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests babies be breast-fed exclusively for six months and then for an additional six months when complemented by solids as human milk provides immunologic, nutritional, and psychological benefits over supplements.
According to a 2012 report by the Center for Disease Control, the number of American women who breast-fed their babies at six months has increased from 74.6 percent in 2008 to 76.9 percent in 2009.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.