​All HUS maternity hospitals are committed to a programme that promotes breastfeeding, called the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Treatment practices and instruction in the maternity hospital have an impact on the start of breastfeeding. Treatment practices of the WHO and UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative enable an optimal start to breastfeeding and thus help mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.

Imetys 280x280.jpgWHO’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a programme aimed at promoting breastfeeding. Describing the treatment practices that support the start of breastfeeding, the iniative’s core is formed by “10 steps to successful breastfeeding”. These treatment practices include the enabling of skin contact and early breastfeeding in the delivery room and round-the-clock rooming-in and child-paced breastfeeding. Additional milk is only given to the babies on medical grounds.

Thanks to the implementation of the programme, more and more babies are discharged from the maternity hospital fully breastfed. The community health nurse at the maternity health clinic will support the continuation of breastfeeding and implementation of the family’s breastfeeding goals at home.

The majority of pregnant Finnish women plan to breastfeed their babies. Nutrition during the baby phase has an impact on the child’s health now and also later in life. This is why every family has the right to receive adequate and impartial information and guidance that they can use to make a conscious choice regarding the feeding of their baby.

Breastfeeding supports the health of both the mother and child. For example, children who are breastfed have less severe respiratory tract infections and diarrhea. Also, if a woman breastfeeds, she has a lower risk of becoming afflicted with breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. For a child born sick or prematurely, breast milk is particularly important during the first weeks and months. This is why breastfeeding is widely recommended. According to the recommendation in force in Finland, breast milk suffices as the only nutrition for the baby for the first six months. After that, it is recommended that breastfeeding is continued until the age of one, along with other food.