The Baby Friendly Hospital and Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

Pregnant women who are planning on breastfeeding should try to find a certified Baby Friendly Hospital in their area.  In 1991 the World Health Organization and Unicef launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, the BFHI.  The goal of the BFHI is to encourage hospitals to become more supportive of breastfeeding.  In order to be considered baby friendly, the hospital must routinely implement the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  The 10 steps to successful breastfeeding are all research based and proven to help women breastfeed their babies.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within half an hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming-in - that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together - 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

If you are unable to find a "baby friendly" hospital in your area, try to find one who's policy includes most or all of the ten steps to successful breastfeeding and come to your birth with a written plan that you expect the hospital staff to follow. 

It is no coincidence that the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding are called "baby friendly."  Being able to stay with mom and breastfeed when she wants is certainly the friendliest welcome that baby can have to her new world.

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