Medgidia: a Baby Friendly success story
You can usually tell a Baby Friendly Hospital when you see one. The friendly, inviting, supportive atmosphere - ensuring conditions for enhanced mother-child bonding, improved rooming-in conditions, medical services and continuous counselling from trained maternity personnel – sets it apart from other maternities.The maternity facility at Medgidia is a case in point. Situated in Romania’s south-east, Medgidia is typical of Romania’s many community-based small maternities, catering to a number of vulnerable groups with multi-ethnic backgrounds, including Romanian, Macedonian, Roma, and Turkish.
In 2003, under the auspices of Romania’s National Strategy on Breast Feeding Promotion 2003-2012, the maternity facility at Medgidia set about implementing all ten steps of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. That year, 1,370 babies were born at the facility, of which only 20 per cent were breastfed. By 2007, with all ten baby friendly steps fully implemented, the number of babies born there had risen to 1,729 – an increase against the national trend, which has declined significantly in recent years; unsurprisingly, the number of infections has fallen as has the average number of hospitalisation days. Little wonder that the Medgidia maternity facility is regarded by Romania’s Ministry of Health as an example of “best practice”.
Equally impressive is that the number of children abandoned at birth has fallen from 12 in 2003 to zero in 2007. Dr Eduart Bălaşa, who manages the Medgidia maternity unity, says that an unbreakable bond is formed when he places the baby on the mother’s stomach, the second the bay is born. “Within fifteen minutes the baby is actively seeking out his mother’s breast to be fed. After thousands of deliveries I’m still amazed when I see them struggling to get to the milk,” he says. Hundreds of babies are left abandoned at maternity hospitals throughout Romania every year, but if this procedure is followed then there is no way a mother would abandon her newborn.
Moreover, administrators at Medgidia have gone beyond ‘baby friendly’ and are supporting breastfeeding practices and the development of integrated services at a community level. While the certified trainers have ensured that the standards of a Baby Friendly Hospital are followed, Medgidia has implemented its own hospital policy on breastfeeding promotion. Information and education materials are readily available and professional support and counselling is ensured for mothers and parents. Regular parenting classes are popular amongst new mothers and pregnant women alike, yet hospital staff makes it clear that fathers and grandparents are equally welcome.