If you’re not familiar with the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), it “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.”
- There are 10 steps that need to be met in order for a hospital to earn its BFHI designation (source):
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits 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 newborn infants 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
Why does this matter? As of March 21, 2012, there are only 140 Baby Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the US (source). The timing of this video couldn’t be better. Public Citizen advocacy group’s letter that was sent to 2600 hospitals nationwide has brought a new spotlight to breastfeeding support, the BFHI, and the WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Maybe this will spur a change with the way hospitals handle a mom who wants to breastfeed. Maybe I should take off my rose colored glasses.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate here for a minute: just because a hospital has its BFHI designation, it doesn’t mean that their entire staff plays by those rules. My own breastfeeding experience has taught me otherwise. Make sure you do your homework and advocate for yourself. If something feels wrong, speak up. That’s all I’ll say about it because I would run away on a long, ranty tangent 😉
If you’re looking for more information on the video or why it is so crucial to get the word out on BFHI, The Curious Lactivist has a great writeup on it. She breaks down the video and even has all the lyrics to the song!
If you delivered at a hospital, was it a BFHI designated hospital? Did they abide by the 10 steps?