Standard of Care
The Indian Health Service supports policies and practices that foster exclusive breastfeeding - meaning no formula and no other liquids or solids - in the first six months of an infant's life and continued breastfeeding, with the introduction of solid food, in the second six months of life. Research shows that hospital practices affect a mother's choice to breastfeed. See Hospital Practices and Women's Likelihood of Fulfilling Their Intention to Exclusively Breastfeed.
The 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding created by the World Health Organization and UNICEF ensure that maternity services provide a healthy start for every infant and the necessary support for mothers to breastfeed. Hospitals around the world follow the 10 Steps. The maternal and child health consultant for the Great Plains Area has created a model policy [PDF - 210 KB] for Indian Health Service hospitals. In addition, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has developed a model policy in addition to the 10 Steps that obstetric facilities can adopt.
The Baby-Friendly® Hospital Initiative of the United States designates facilities as baby friendly - a designation that's a positive marketing tool for a health facility and a signal to the surrounding community that breastfeeding is important. And, research shows that baby-friendly hospitals increase the proportion of infants who are exclusively breastfed. See Do Baby-Friendly Hospitals Influence Breastfeeding Duration on a National Level?
The baby-friendly designation process involves accepting the 10 Steps and demonstrating through an intensive review process that policies and practices have been changed to support breastfeeding. The Indian Health Service is working to achieve the baby-friendly designation for 14 of its obstetric facilities. We're encouraging tribal obstetric facilities to adopt this initiative as well.
Baby-Friendly® is a registered certification mark of UNICEF.
A Room of Their Own
Nursing mothers should have a dedicated space - a lactation room - in a clinic to be able to nurse their babies or to express milk. While there are no clinical requirements that we know of concerning what a lactation room should look like, there is a federal law that requires employers to provide a safe, private place for employees to be able to express milk.
- Hospital Practices and Women's Likelihood of Fulfilling Their Intention to Exclusively Breastfeed
- 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding Policy, Great Plains Area [PDF - 210 KB]
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- Baby-Friendly® Hospital Initiative of the United States
- Do Baby-Friendly Hospitals Influence Breastfeeding Duration on a National Level?