Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
In the U.S., most babies start breastfeeding, but within the first week, half have already been given formula, and by 9 months, only 31% of babies are breastfeeding. Hospitals can either help or hinder mothers and babies as they begin to breastfeed. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative describes Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding that have been shown to increase breastfeeding rates by providing support to mothers.
- Have a written breastfeeding policy.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding 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 newborns no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in-allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.