Have you heard of baby-friendly hospitals but never really understood what that meant?
According to their website: ” The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. “
Hospitals have go through several steps to receive the BFHI designation. Most importantly they train their staff on how to give mothers the information, confidence and skills to successfully initiate breastfeeding. The staff has more training compared to hospitals that aren’t a part of the program. This additional training helps them better prepare mothers on how to safely feed their newborn. While breastfeeding is one of the main platforms of the BFHI there are several other aspects to the accreditation that are beneficial to all mothers and babies. The full list is listed here:
The U.S. BFHI Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria and the assessment and accreditation processes are predicated on the following tenets:
- Well-constructed, comprehensive policies effectively guide staff to deliver evidence-based care.
- Well-trained staff provide current, evidence-based care.
- Monitoring of practice is required to assure adherence to policy.
- Breastfeeding has been recognized by scientific authorities as the optimal method of infant feeding and should be promoted as the norm within all maternal and child health care facilities.
- The most sound and effective procedural approaches to supporting breastfeeding and human lactation in the birthing environment that have been documented in the scientific literature to date should be followed by the health facility.
- The health care delivery environment should be neither restrictive nor punitive and should facilitate informed health care decisions on the part of the mother and her family.
- The health care delivery environment should be sensitive to cultural and social diversity.
- The mother and her family should be protected within the health care setting from false or misleading product promotion and/or advertising which interferes with or undermines informed choices regarding infant health care practices.
- When a mother has chosen not to breastfeed, when supplementation of breastfeeding is medically indicated, or when supplementation is chosen by the breastfeeding mother (after appropriate counseling and education), it is crucial that safe and appropriate methods of formula mixing, handling, storage, and feeding are taught to the parents.
- Recognition as a Baby-Friendly institution should have both national and international credibility and prestige, so that it is marketable to the community, increases demand, and thereby improves motivation among facilities to participate in the Initiative.
- Participation of any facility in the U.S. BFHI is entirely voluntary and is available to any institution providing birthing services. Each participating facility assumes full responsibility for assuring that its implementation of the BFHI is consistent with all of its safety protocols.
To find if your hospital is a part of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative check out their website. Baby-Friendly USA