Abu Dhabi health authority plans to make hospitals more ‘mother-friendly’
ABU DHABI // Plans to make hospitals more user-friendly for mothers and babies have been announced by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad).
The authority plans to ensure all maternal care facilities have areas where mothers can breastfeed, a practice that is highly beneficial for infant health, said state news agency Wam.
“Haad is keen to provide an environment that supports mothers to breastfeed their babies. Hospitals provide mothers with the greatest level of care, attention and support before and after the birth of the baby,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, Haad director of Public Health and Research.
“There is no better place than hospitals to adopt this mission to support breastfeeding by educating mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding, and supporting them with easy access to lactation consultants and experts around the clock.”
Haad commissioned a survey to assess the status of baby-friendly hospitals and identify the number of lactation consultants employed by all maternity hospitals in the emirate.
According to the survey, five institutions were already baby-friendly hospitals.
Dr Fayeza Naser, deputy chief executive of Corniche Hospital, confirmed the importance of mothers’ commitment to continue to breastfeed and that the hospital had offered breastfeeding lessons for mothers for the past three decades.
She said the breastfeeding support group meets once every week at the hospital’s parent education centre to provide free lessons for Corniche patients.
Through the baby-friendly hospital initiative, Haad is encouraging all maternity hospitals to implement the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding guidelines.
It stipulates that every facility providing maternity services and care for newborns should have a written breastfeeding policy that is communicated to all healthcare staff.
It also helps mothers to initiate breastfeeding within half an hour of the child’s birth, shows mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
They are also to feed their newborns only breast milk, unless medically indicated otherwise.
Healthcare providers should also allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day and encourage breastfeeding on demand.
The announcement is part of the Enaya breastfeeding campaign that was launched in 2003 by Haad to increase the number of mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies.