Launch of IHS Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
By Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Indian Health Service
Today, the Indian Health Service (IHS) is officially launching its Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, NM.This breastfeeding initiative is designed to create a healthy start on life and help prevent childhood obesity.It is a part of the Let's Move! in Indian Country (LMIC) initiative, which is a part of the First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign.The LMIC brings together federal agencies, communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes with the goal of ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation.
This initiative will use quality improvement processes to improve breastfeeding rates through new maternity care and infant feeding practices.Our goal for the IHS Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is to certify 14 federal IHS obstetric facilities as baby-friendly hospitals by 2012 and to encourage 12 Tribal obstetric facilities to adopt this initiative.By promoting breastfeeding, the IHS will reduce current and future medical problems and decrease health care costs.A baby-friendly hospital is one that supports breastfeeding and offers breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills need to start and continue breastfeeding their babies.Breastfeeding is critical for both baby and mother as it supports infant growth and development and it protects both the infant's and mother's health.
Northern Navajo Medical Center is the site of our IHS launch of this initiative because they already support breastfeeding mothers and work closely with the Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition to support this traditional practice.The launch included representatives from the Navajo Nation and its Breastfeeding Coalition, as well as local women and families who shared their personal stories about breastfeeding.
The Baby-Friendly® Hospital Initiative is a series of maternity care practices that were created in 1991 by the United Nations Children's Fund and World Health Organization as the gold standard for significantly increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.In the 20 years since the initiative started, more than 200,000 hospitals in 156 countries have joined the program.The program offers ten steps to successful breastfeeding that enable facilities and communities to support women who breastfeed.
Helping Native Youth get a Healthy Start on Life: the Launch of IHS Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative