More hospitals in Canada becoming ‘baby friendly’

WATCH: A growing number of hospitals in Canada are earning a special distinction of becoming “baby-friendly." As Heather Yourex-West explains, the World Health Organization distinction means the facility emphasizes things like skin-to-skin contact and breast feeding education.

A growing number of hospitals in Canada are becoming “baby friendly,” a designation developed by the World Health Organization and brought to Canada by The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada.

“For us, getting this baby-friendly designation was about the family. We wanted to really up our standards with having the family be a full part of the delivery experience,” said Anna Tumoth, the baby-friendly initiative lead at the High River Hospital.

READ MORE: U of C study shows positive support around breastfeeding reduces postpartum depression 

The hospital, south of Calgary, received its baby-friendly designation in March 2017. In order to earn the designation, the hospital had to ensure parents were able to bond skin-to-skin soon after their baby was born regardless of how that baby was delivered.

“Regardless of if its a planned caesarean section or a vaginal birth, all infants go directly on their mother’s chest at birth.”

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Maternity staff also have enhanced training on breastfeeding education and support. Mothers are allowed to stay in the hospital until they feel comfortable with the skill.

Jennifer Penman, a mother of four, delivered all of her children at the High River Hospital.  Penman says her experiences with the hospital were very positive.

“They had the teachers and the guidance to actually help you learn how to breastfeed properly — what it’s supposed to look like, what it’s supposed to feel like, that sort of thing.”

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The Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton and the Bonnyville Health Centre have also recently received the baby-friendly designation.

Other baby-friendly hospitals are located throughout Ontario, at the B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver and in Steinbach, Man.

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