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Hospitals and birthing centers designated “baby friendly” follow a list of guidelines based on up-to-date medical research designed to support you as you give your baby the best start in life possible.

From the moment right after birth when skin-to-skin contact is so important in establishing a strong bond, until the moments you leave the hospital to begin a life together, baby friendly hospitals and birthing centers make sure you have everything you need to be a successful, confident parent.

Because breast milk is the most nutritious food for newborns, baby friendly hospital staff help mom and baby begin breastfeeding as soon after birth as possible, usually within the first hour.

Breastfeeding is natural, but it is a learning process for both mom and baby. Baby friendly hospital staff will help new moms recognize their babies’ feeding cues and help them to feed on demand.

Lactation consultants and hospital staff will help make sure both baby and mom establish a good breastfeeding routine while in the hospital so moms feel confident they are providing all the nutrition their baby needs and can maintain that routine when they get home.

If you have any breastfeeding problems or challenges, staff can help you find solutions quickly, making your first few days as a breastfeeding mom less stressful. And they are there to answer any questions you may have about what to expect when breastfeeding.

In a baby friendly hospital or birthing center you and your baby will “room in.” This means your baby will be in your room night and day during your stay. This way you can get to know your baby before you go home from the hospital. You will know what to expect as he breathes, feeds and sleeps. And if you have any questions about your baby’s behavior, staff members are there to help.

To further support moms, after you leave the hospital, baby friendly centers can give you access to breastfeeding and newborn support groups in your area, giving you a never-ending circle of knowledge, advice and support.

To find a baby friendly hospital or birthing center in your area, go to: www.babyfriendlyusa.org/find-facilities.

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