The entire team at Baby-Friendly USA sends our deepest gratitude to all healthcare providers, staff and first responders for the heroic work you are doing to provide incredible care to your patients. To say you are working under extraordinarily difficult circumstances is a gross understatement. Our respect for each and every one of you has never been higher. While we must remain physically separated from one another, you are in our constant thoughts and sealed in our hearts. Thank you for all you are doing.
A Good Time to Remember: Breast Milk is Remarkable!
Many families are grappling with how to keep their newborn infants healthy and safe in this COVID-19 environment. It can be very empowering for them to fully understand the powerful immunological properties of breastfeeding and how it works to protect infants. As they are also likely very overwhelmed, we encourage calm and gentle conversations with families about the importance of exclusive breast and/or breast milk feeding.
Helping families achieve breastfeeding success is still one of your most critical roles, which is why the practices embodied in the Ten Steps remain important even during this public health emergency. If a mother is not symptomatic (PUI) for coronavirus, we strongly encourage you to keep these practices in place. Most especially:
- Immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact which promotes the early initiation of breastfeeding. Talk with your patients about the importance of colostrum with its protective antibodies.
- Rooming-in which allows a mother to practice responsive feeding and assists in the establishment of breastfeeding. Note: Rooming-in can also limit exposures from staff and other patients.
- Assessment and individualized care to mothers that are breastfeeding.
- Supplement with formula when medically necessary. If formula supplementation is necessary, the goal should be to return to exclusive breastfeeding, whenever possible.
For those mothers that may be temporarily separated from their infants, it is important for them to understand the value of expressing their breast milk and that this milk will be fed to their babies by a healthy caregiver (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).
We have been asked about potential adjustments to the BFHI programmatic requirements. We are now rescheduling all on-site assessments originally scheduled through the end of May. We understand your current priorities and, yes, of course we are extending due dates related to all other aspects of our program; 4-D Pathway, Annual Quality Improvement (AQI) and Re-Designations. Since the full national impacts of COVID-19 are still unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and offer firm plans later. Please be assured that we will diligently set reasonable strategies and timelines for how we can all get back on track once this global health crisis is over.
Please stay healthy and safe — and thank you for your important work!