Orange County's First Baby-Friendly Hospital

In 2009 St. Joseph Hospital became the first hospital in Orange County to be designated as "Baby Friendly." We were re-designated in 2014. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global effort undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). It galvanizes caregivers to give new mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their infants, and recognizes hospitals and birth centers giving this optimal level of care.

More than two decades of research have established that breast milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants and protect them from illness. Breast-fed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies and other medical problems than bottle-fed babies, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The greatest benefits are derived when babies are breastfed exclusively (breast milk is their only food) for the first six months of life.

Click here to read our breastfeeding policy.

St. Joseph Hospital has consistently ranked among the highest Orange County hospitals for breastfeeding rates. The hospital staff worked for four years to thoroughly implement Baby-Friendly policies. According to research, hospitals that implement Baby-Friendly policies achieve higher breastfeeding rates.

Baby-Friendly designation is granted after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. St. Joseph Hospital was surveyed in 2009 to become the 80th hospital nationwide given the Baby-Friendly designation.

To maintain the award a hospital must:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
  2. Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice "rooming in"-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage unrestricted breastfeeding.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Beyond these practices, St. Joseph Hospital provides encouragement and support for breastfeeding via pre- and post-natal breastfeeding classes offered on an ongoing basis. The hospital's Stork Stop Boutique offers a wide range of lactation supplies including lactation bras, nursing clothing and feeding accessories.

Support for the breastfeeding mother is also rendered in the critical time between hospital discharge and the first visit with a physician. Follow-up appointments are made at the Mother Baby Assessment Center for baby and mom a few days after they leave St. Joseph Hospital. In addition to being Orange County's first Baby-Friendly designated hospital, St. Joseph Hospital is one of the only hospitals in Orange County providing this after-discharge care for growing families.