The World Health Organization launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother and baby bonding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative recognizes and awards facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative assists facilities in providing mothers with support, information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their baby. In order for a hospital/birthing center to become a Baby-Friendly facility they must review policies and train staff in a manner that compels the facility to provide maternity care with a goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. As a mother planning to breastfeeding it is important to find a facility that fits your plan. You can find Baby-Friendly centers in your area by visiting www.babyfriendlyusa.org.
Baby-Friendly hospitals must adhere to The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding which were developed by a team of global experts and consist of evidence-based practices shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for a Baby-Friendly facility are as follows:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
- Train all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast-mil, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers of artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birthing center.
Find more helpful breastfeeding tips and accessories here.