In 2021, Lohja Hospital received its second Baby Friendly certificate from the WHO. Titta Järvenpää, a midwife at Lohja for two decades, developed an interest in breastfeeding and baby-friendliness early in her career.

Järvenpää has been a breastfeeding instructor for more than ten years. 

“I prefer the title ‘baby-friendliness instructor’. It indicates that my work is not just about helping with breastfeeding; it involves all family-friendly aspects of nursing,” says Järvenpää.

Baby-friendliness is a permanent care policy

WHO awarded Lohja Hospital a Baby Friendly certificate in 2015 and again in 2021. The certificate is a testimonial to high-quality evidence-based care and practices. 

“It’s not just a plaque on the wall. It is an indication of a permanent care policy. Lohja Hospital is the only hospital in HUS and indeed in all of southern Finland to have a valid WHO Baby Friendly certificate. The nearest other such hospitals are in Pori and Jyväskylä. This makes our certificate even more valuable, in my mind,” says Järvenpää. 

In spring 2021, Järvenpää provided training for other employees and gave lectures. Baby-friendliness was also highlighted in management group meetings and in publicity. 

“I am very proud and grateful that the hospital management considered this training important, despite all the Covid restrictions and how busy we are. It was also gratifying to note that physicians and stakeholders also actively took part in the training and discussions,” says Järvenpää with pleasure. 

Baby-friendliness is a mainstreamed approach not limited to breastfeeding. Mothers-to-be can move about freely during the childbirth and make use of natural pain relief. Skin-to-skin contact and round-the-clock rooming-in are important factors in establishing early interaction and bonding. 

“My feeling is that baby-friendliness should be seen as a component of the overall HUS policy focusing on a customer-oriented approach and individual, high-quality, evidence-based care. If we look at these in the context of the criteria for the WHO Baby Friendly certificate, it is not difficult to take this care policy on board. It is important for every professional group to believe in and trust this operating model,” Järvenpää says with emphasis.

Childbirths are increasing

The number of childbirths at Lohja Hospital has increased substantially. The baby boom and the popular social media postings made by the ward have attracted increasing numbers of mothers-to-be to Lohja. In 2021, 1,405 babies were delivered at Lohja Hospital. Not only is the hospital more busy now; the number of special monitoring cases has also increased, bringing added challenges. The incidence of risk factors in childbirth have clearly increased over the past years. 

In 2021, 17,506 babies were delivered.

“We always aim to listen to the mother’s wishes and to support her. The challenge is that treatment periods are shorter than ever: there is a call to discharge mothers only six hours after childbirth. But families have such a lot to get their heads around in such a short time that we can only hope that their care process will continue to an equally high standard at the child health clinic. It is important to liaise with child health clinics. My hope is that we will be able to develop more shared care practices and training sessions in the future,” says Järvenpää.