x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Wasl Hospital aims to be 'baby friendly'

Al Wasl Hospital is preparing to be assessed by an independent team under the WHO-Unicef "Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative".

Emily Glynn with her children, Estelle and Tess. Mrs Emily is involved with a lactation support group called Breastfeeding Q&A.
Emily Glynn with her children, Estelle and Tess. Mrs Emily is involved with a lactation support group called Breastfeeding Q&A.

Dubai // Emily Glynn noticed a big difference at her maternity hospital in the three years that passed between the birth of her daughters. Mrs Glynn, 36, gave birth at Al Wasl Hospital, which along with Dubai Hospital is preparing to be assessed by an independent team under the WHO-Unicef "Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative". Instead of being whisked away and cleaned up by hospital staff, and then spending time in a nursery, the infant was laid on her mother's chest seconds after being delivered - by Caesarean section. Within an hour a nurse had been by to give instructions on breastfeeding, which Mrs Glynn had been encouraged to start while still in recovery.

"I had to 'room in' with my baby, which is much more helpful for bonding, because you are together all the time," she said. "Everything was done by the bedside. I did not see a single bottle the entire time I was there." Alison Ramsay, the director of nursing at Al Wasl, said: "You learn your baby's rhythm if the baby's with you. You learn the signals when the baby's ready to eat." A hospital that aims to become "baby friendly" must, according to WHO and Unicef instructions, satisfy 10 requirements as judged by an independent assessment team. They include 20 hours of training for all relevant staff, helping mothers breastfeed within a half-hour of giving birth and providing no supplements to breast milk unless medically necessary.

Mrs Ramsay, said the project had been in the works for years with plans to have their efforts assessed before the end of the year. The hardest part, she said, was getting 900 staff through the 20 hours of instruction. @Email:amcqueen@thenational.ae