Baby Friendly Hospitals in Virginia

What is a baby-friendly hospital?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. It recognizes and awards birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (i) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (ii). The BFHI assists hospitals in giving all mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based, maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. It compels facilities to examine, challenge and modify longstanding policies and procedures. It requires training and skill building among all levels of staff. It entails implementing audit processes to assure quality in all aspects of maternity care operations. The journey is exciting, challenging, and worth it! It creates opportunities to develop high performance work teams and build leadership skills among staff, promotes employee pride, enhances patient satisfaction and improves health outcomes.”

i.The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breast-feeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services. Geneva: WHO, 1989.

ii. International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Geneva: WHO, 1981.

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Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

[WHO_NHD_99.2_cov] The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding were developed by a team of global experts and consist of evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the 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 hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Ten Steps are endorsed and promoted by the major maternal and child health authorities in the United States, including:

American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Nurses
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National WIC Association
U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC)
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
U.S. Surgeon General