Baby (and mother) Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-Friendly hospital initiative was created in 1991, and now spans across many countries. If you’re expecting a child, and aim to have a more humanistic, breastfeeding friendly experience look up what, if any hospitals in your area are Baby-Friendly. Unfortunately the U.S., is lacking in these hospitals, especially in low-income marginalized communities.

Baby-Friendly hospitals must follow a 10 step program, ensuring best practices in terms of breastfeeding initiation and support. Among other practices here are a few most important steps taken to support the mother and baby Mothers are encouraged to do Skin-to-Skin, placing baby immediately after birth, or as soon as possible on mothers chest. Pacifiers and other soothers are not to be used. Formula is not provided, or encouraged unless specifically requested by the mother. And mothers and babies are encouraged to room-in together, so as to assure breastfeeding on demand.

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

To help in the implementation of the initiative, different tools and materials were developed, field-tested and provided, including a course for maternity staff, a self-appraisal tool and an external assessment tool. Additional tools were developed afterwards, such as monitoring and reassessment tools. Since its launching BFHI has grown, with more than 152 countries around the world implementing the initiative. The initiative has measurable and proven impact, increasing the likelihood of babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six months. -WHO site

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