The Journal of Human Lactation’s (JHL) newest podcast is now available on their website. Based upon “Challenges and Successes: The Baby Friendly Initiative in Norway” from the latest issue of JHL, this podcast is an interview by Editor-in-Chief, Anne Merewood, of one of the paper’s authors, Mette Ness Hansen. Hansen is a registered nurse and IBCLC at The Norwegian Resource Centre for Breastfeeding at the Oslo University Hospital and has been involved with the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative since the early eighties.
We asked Hansen to share a bit about how the tide turned in regards to being Baby Friendly in Norway and here is what she had to say:
When we first began to implement the BFHI back in 1993, we were lucky to be supported by the Norwegian health authorities.
At that time, our maternity ward routines were not particulary Baby-Friendly: 24 hour rooming-in was rare, supplementing with formula and / or sugar water from day one was quite common and breastfeeding knowledge among staff was generally poor.
The general idea was that the best care for the mother after birth, was if she could sleep the whole night after beeing provided with pain killers and sleping pills, while the staff were looking after the baby, giving supplement and pacifiers.
For the staff who were used to taking care of the baby, it was hard to accept that the mother was capable of both feeding and nursing the baby herself. Losing ”control” of the newborn was like loosing their professional identity. Soon we realized that it was necessary to introduce a guiding principle: Caring for the mother, enabling her to care for the baby.
Changing routines is always a challenge and when implementing the BFHI. The most important task was to train the clinical staff members in breastfeeding skills to make them understand the usefulness of the Ten Steps. Today more than 90 % of all babies in Norway are born in a designated Baby-Friendly unit.
The Initiative has been expanded to the NICU’s and since 2005 the Initiative has been adapted to the Community Health Services. Today almost 50% of all mothers with newborn babies are linked to a Maternal and Child Health Center which are designated as, or are in the process of becomming Baby-Friendly.
We have no Baby-Friendly assessment and designation for educational establishments. Most education programs for midwifery and health visitors schools offer education on breastfeeding. The Norwegian Resource Centre for Breastfeeding in co-operation with the College of Health care studies have a program where we educate specialised breastfeeding counsellors on a national level.
Since Febryary 2012, we have been pilot testing an electronic reassessment tool based on WHO’s monitoring tool for BFHI. In October this year, we plan to carry out this reassessment in all Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing units, and at the same time we are asking for Infant Feeding Records to register the use of supplements.
BFHI is an effective tool in increasing breastfeeding rates and interaction between mother and child. The training of staff is crucial; the more you know about breastfeeding, the more you understand the importance of implementing the Ten Steps.
Mette Ness Hansen, RN, RM, IBCLC, has been working several years in delivery- and maternity wards. She is now employed in The Norwegian Resource Centre for Breastfeeding, Oslo University Hospital. She has been involved in breastfeeding promotion support since the eighties including initiation and assessment of the WHO/UNICEF “Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative” (BFHI) and the expansion of BFHI to the neonatal units in Norway. She is a BFHI coordinator, and is also working as a community midwife.