The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is an international program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Initiative recognizes hospitals and birth centers “that have taken steps to provide an optimal environment for the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.”
According to its website (www.aboutus.com/a100/bfusa/), since the inception of the Initiative in 1991, more than 16,000 hospitals and birth centers in more than 125 countries have been assessed and have received the prestigious “Baby-Friendly” award.
In the United States, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is implemented by the non-profit organization, Baby-Friendly USA. Currently 33 US hospitals and birth centers have received the “Baby-Friendly” designation.
The Initiative bases its work on—and “Baby-Friendly” designees must conform to—the following:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice “rooming in” by allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats, pacifiers, dummies, or soothers to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birthing center.
For more information on the Initiative, visit their website, call (508)888-8092, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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