What is the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative?

In 1991, the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in response to the 1990 Innocenti Declaration on the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and aims to provide health facilities with a framework for addressing practices which have a negative impact on breastfeeding.


Breast/Chest Feeding provides ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants by providing protection from morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases and chronic diseases later in life. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended, starting within one hour of birth and for the first 6 months of life, with continued breastfeeding to 2 years of age and beyond. However, rates of initiation or exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding duration have fallen since the widespread introduction and promotion of human milk substitutes. Successful breastfeeding depends on a number of factors, including a re-normalization of breast/chest feeding as the infant feeding method of choice through antenatal counseling and education and breast/chest feeding support to prevent and resolve breast/chest feeding difficulties.


To find out if the hospital you will be giving birth at is a Baby Friendly Hospital, you can ask your healthcare provider, or google hospitals in your area who are Baby Friendly Certified.


Note: Your hospital does not have to be Baby Friendly Certified in order to provide lactation or breast/chest feeding support. Some hospitals still offer lactation support from a Lactation Educator, Certified Lactation Educator, or International Board Certified Lactation Counselor (IBCLC). Your insurance provider may cover outpatient lactation services, contact your insurance provider to see if coverage is available.


References:

https://www.who.int/elena/titles/bbc/implementation_bfhi/en/