The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is premised on the idea that quality healthcare requires actively promoting breast-feeding.
“Breast-feeding 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 healthcare facilities,” according to the principles on which BFHI creates criteria for certification. “The most sound and effective procedural approaches to supporting breast-feeding and human lactation in the birthing environment that have been documented in the scientific literature to date should be followed by the health facility.”
BFHI provides extensive criteria for certification. An example is the first guideline for healthcare facilities:
“GUIDELINE: Breast-milk should be the standard for infant feeding. All infants in the facility should be considered to be breast-feeding infants unless, after giving birth and being offered help to breast-feed, the mother has specifically stated that she has no plans to breast-feed (see steps 4 and 5). The facility should have a written policy (Step 1) that addresses the implementation of Steps 2-10 as well as the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, and communicates the Baby-Friendly philosophy that mothers room with, care for, and feed their own well infants and should be protected from the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and other efforts that undermine an informed feeding choice. All areas of the facility that potentially interact with childbearing women and babies will have language in their policies about the promotion, protection, and support of breast-feeding. Policies of all departments will support and will not countermand the facility’s breast-feeding policy and be based on recent and reliable scientific evidence.”
BFHI lists these criteria for evaluating compliance with that guideline.
- “The facility will have written maternity care and infant feeding policies that address all Ten Steps, protect breast-feeding, and adhere to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.
- All areas of the facility that potentially interact with childbearing women and babies will have language in their policies about the promotion, protection, and support of breast-feeding.
- Policies of all departments will not countermand the facility’s breast-feeding policy.
- Review of all clinical protocols, standards, and educational materials related to breast-feeding and infant feeding used by the maternity services indicates that they are in line with BFHI standards and current evidence-based guidelines.
- The Nursing Director/Manager will be able to identify the healthcare professionals who have ultimate responsibility for assuring the implementation of the breast-feeding policy.”