Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (The BFHI) is a global program introduced in 1991 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in the hospital or birth setting. The BFHI supports hospitals with giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies. More than 15,000 facilities in 134 countries, 86 in the United States of America, and four in Washington State have been awarded “Baby Friendly” status today. In these hospitals, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants, and child health has improved.
The 10 criteria for a hospitals Baby Friendly designation are:
1, Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2, Train all health care 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 newborn 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 breastfeeding on demand.
9, Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10, Foster the establishment or breastfeeding support groups and refer mother to them on discharge from hospital or clinic.
The biggest benefit of BFHI is that breastfed infants can receive the most complete nutrition and protections against illness such as ear infections, respiratory infection, stomach viruses, diarrhea, asthma, leukemia, or SIDS. Women who breastfeed may also have less risk of some cancers, anemia, and osteoporosis in later life. Breastfeeding requires physical contact with a...