Some years ago, I was chatting with Janet Zablocki, who had led her facility to become the first Baby-Friendly Hospital in our province. We were discussing the perennial topic among lactation consultants which was how to improve care at the bedside to prevent the ‘trainwrecks’ - and I commented that a change in workplace culture was needed to improve care. She thoughtfully paused and responded, “No, you need a change in policy - and the practice follows. You can’t wait to change every mind before providing the care that the evidence demands.”
I took her thoughts to heart as someone who had not only changed her facility, but also the thinking across our province about what and was not possible within a publicly funded, community hospital. The infant feeding policy is more than just a piece of paper: it is a commitment to providing care that is based in evidence and validated to create better outcomes for infants and their families.
When a facility adopts a policy, its staff are directed to follow it. Practices that do not support the best outcomes for each and every infant and family can be eliminated as a change in beliefs develops over time, through both training and experiences. I have held that conversation in my heart over the years when I wondered where to focus my energy.
A policy is also a tool for accountability and long-term sustainability. Without an effective policy, funding pressures and ever-present challenges from the commercial forces that do not benefit from breastfeeding erode the practices of even well-trained health care workers. Good policy protects the investment in the training of staff.
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Last Updated: September 2018