The Indian Health Service (IHS) is recognizing World Breastfeeding Week 2018 which is observed the first week in August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. This year’s theme is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life.
One of the ways IHS is promoting the benefits of breastfeeding is through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. This program is a quality improvement initiative to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration, thereby creating a healthy start in life and preventing childhood obesity. Studies show that children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese and suffer from major chronic conditions such as type II diabetes, a condition that disproportionately affects American Indian/Alaska Natives.
Ten IHS federally operated obstetrical hospitals are designated as Baby-Friendly. Baby-Friendly designated facilities are required to be surveyed and re-designated every five years by Baby-Friendly USA . Efforts to sustain BFHI are ongoing and include adherence to the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding that were developed by a team of global experts and consist of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. In addition, BHFI’s must ensure that their Baby-Friendly policy is reviewed annually and updated as needed, breastfeeding activities are tracked, and that the BFHI policy is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
The Phoenix Indian Medical Center, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is currently Baby-Friendly designated. Some of their accomplishments since becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital include educating patients and staff on topics such as benefits, risks and positioning. The medical center has designated a lactation room for breastfeeding patients and employees. Public health nurses also follow-up with breastfeeding mothers at home who have been identified as having a C-section or complicated birth, teenage mothers, first-time mothers and babies with weight loss.
IHS Hospitals Designated as Baby-Friendly
- Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning, MT
- Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Chinle, AZ
- Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, OK
- Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, NM
- Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, NM
- Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ
- Pine Ridge Hospital in Pine Ridge, SD
- Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility in Belcourt, ND
- Whiteriver Indian Hospital in Whiteriver, AZ
- Zuni Comprehensive Community Health Center in Zuni, NM
Learn about what IHS is doing to promote and support breastfeeding such as the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.