The Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar joined an elite group of designated baby-friendly hospitals when they were presented with the Baby Friendly National Award this week.
Dr Genevieve Becker, national co-ordinator of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI ), presented the award to the hospital. Congratulating the hospital, Dr Becker noted that 40 per cent of births take place in the seven Irish maternity services that meet the WHO/ UNICEF criteria to be designated a Baby Friendly hospital.
“This percentage is higher than Spain, Germany, and France and similar to that of the UK, though behind the Scandinavian and Dutch rates. The target in the National Breastfeeding Action Plan is for 50 per cent of births to be in baby-friendly hospitals. Last year approximately 38,000 newborn babies left Irish hospitals breastfeeding, giving them a healthy start in life as well as the health and economic importance for their mothers, families, and wider society”, said Dr Becker.
These BFHI standards can take many years of work to achieve. Reaching the standards means the hospital has a breastfeeding policy, provides staff training, promotes informed parental decisions through the provision of appropriate, accurate, and unbiased discussions, as well as implementing practices supportive of good mother and baby care. Hospitals are required to keep up these standards through annual audits and regular external assessments.
Baby-friendly hospitals also facilitate their staff continuing to breastfeed after returning to work through a supportive environment with breastfeeding facilities as well as lactation breaks. Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar also received a bronze award of a Breastfeeding Supportive Workplace.
Accepting the Baby Friendly Hospital Award, Anne Kelly said “It is an honour to accept this very prestigious award which indicates the international standards of excellence achieved at Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar through a multidisciplinary approach.”
Hospital manager Trevor O’Callaghan thanked all those involved for their many years of work in reaching and maintaining this standard.
Visit the website of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in Ireland at www.ihph.ie/babyfriendlyinitiative