BHealthy Blog

What is The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative?

Have you heard that Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, along with six other hospitals in Arkansas are going “Baby Friendly?”  Mothers who deliver their baby in a Baby-Friendly facility can be sure that all policies and procedures in place will support her feeding choice, and that all of the staff is on board to help her be successful.

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.

Baptist Health has a Baby Friendly Committee in place and is currently on track to be awarded the Baby Friendly Certification by next year!  If you would like more information, have ideas or comments for the Committee please contact Jessica Donahue, RN IBCLC at 501-202-7378 or Jessica.donahue@baptist-health.org.  Or follow our progress on our Facebook page and leave your comments there.

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