January 6, 2021

BreastfeedLA is pleased to announce that MLK Community Healthcare (MLKCH) is the first and only hospital newly designated as a Baby-Friendly Hospital by Baby-Friendly USA in California in 2021! MLKCH is one of twenty birthing hospitals in the County of Los Angeles with this prestigious designation. In order to achieve Baby-Friendly designation, the hospital demonstrated its ability to offer mothers the information, skills and support needed to successfully initiate bonding and breastfeeding.

The designation means that MLKCH has implemented each of the 10 steps required to provide optimal care and support for breastfeeding mothers and their babies, as outlined in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, better known as UNICEF. 

As of now, there are 590 baby-friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States; 92 in California; 20 in Los Angeles. The designation lasts for five years and requires hospitals to maintain a data-tracking system on breastfeeding rates and report statistics annually. 

A maternity care facility can be designated as Baby-Friendly when they meet the requirements created by the World Health Organization and adhere to the 10 Steps of Successful Breastfeeding including helping all mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, showing mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants, giving newborn infants only breast milk unless medically indicated, practicing rooming-in by allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day, and encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding on cue. Studies continue to demonstrate that there are many benefits to breastfeeding that extend beyond the initial first days of life. 

“Baby-Friendly ensures that hospitals provide the gold standard of care in regards to infant feeding and bonding. We are proud to have assisted MLKCH on this journey and proud of the work the hospital has done to improve maternity care practices at their facility,” said Arissa Palmer, Executive Director for BreastfeedLA. “The entire hospital staff including physicians, nurses and lactation consultants have worked together to create a system of support for new families.”

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternity care facilities, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support. Since the program started, over 16,000 facilities worldwide in 134 countries have received the Baby-Friendly designation.

“First 5 LA is pleased that MLKCH has joined the fourteen Welcome Baby hospitals in L.A. County to receive a Baby-Friendly designation. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this significant accomplishment,” said First 5 LA Program Associate, Karlo Herrera. First 5 LA, an early childhood advocacy organization, committed $10.5 million to fund up to 19 hospitals in L.A. County to become Baby-Friendly. First 5 LA supports the training of nurses and physicians on lactation education, the 10 Steps To Successful Breastfeeding, and the ongoing work of the Regional Breastfeeding Consortiums in L.A. County. Additionally, First 5 LA supports Welcome Baby, a voluntary home visitation program, serving more than 60,000 families in L.A. County. 

As the state’s largest funder of early childhood, First 5 LA works to strengthen systems, parents and communities so that children are ready to succeed in school and life. An independent public agency, First 5 LA’s goal is to support the safe and healthy development of young children so that by 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Learn more at www.first5la.org.