What is the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI)?
The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) as it is referred to in Canada is also known as the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), is an international programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, launched in 1991 following the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration on breastfeeding promotion in 1990.
The initiative is a global effort for improving the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed babies. This is the normal food for babies. To improve the care of pregnant women, mothers and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and many national government health agencies recommend that babies are breastfed exclusively for their first six months of life. Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses, including gastroenteritis, asthma, eczema, and respiratory and ear infections. Adults who were breastfed as babies are less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease such as obesity and high blood pressure. There are benefits for mothers too: women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures in later life. The BFHI aims to increase the numbers of babies who are exclusively breastfed worldwide; a goal which the WHO estimates could contribute to avoiding over a million child deaths each year.
The foundation for the BFHI are the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding described in Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: the Special Role of Maternity Services, a joint WHO/UNICEF Statement(1989). The evidence for the effectiveness of the Ten Steps has been summarized in a scientific review document.
The History of the Baby-Friendy Initiative
The History of the Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) on Wikipedia. Read More…
How can you achieve designation? Here is a summary of the Ten Steps of the BFI
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 one half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, not even sips of water, 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.
The program also restricts use by the hospital of free formula or other infant care aids provided by formula companies. Since the program’s inception, approximately 22,000 facilities in more than 152 countries have been designated as “Baby-Friendly.”
“Integrated 10 Steps & WHO Code Practice Outcome Indicators for Hospitals and Community Health Services: Summary.” Read More…
How can you achieve BFI in your area?
For detailed information, see the Breastfeeding Commitee for Canada website. They are The National Authority for the Baby-Friendly Initiative. Read More…
BFI Status Report 2014 with WHO Country report.