DEMO - Baby Friendly Health Initiative

Introduction

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative launched by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1991.

The goal is to improve the nutrition of infants and young children through the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

It was introduced into Australia in 1992 and is administered by the Australian College of Midwives (ACM). BFHI aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health care environment where breastfeeding is accepted as the biologically normal way to feed an infant.

In Australia in 2006, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative became the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in order to more accurately reflect the expansion of the initiative into the community health settings.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in Hospitals and the 7 Point Plan for Community Services are the global standards by which health services are assessed and accredited as 'Baby Friendly' and form the foundation of BFHI. A 'Baby Friendly' health service is one where mothers' informed choice of feeding is supported, respected and encouraged and benefits all mothers regardless of how they decide to feed.

Implementation of the ten steps ensures health professionals, who have contact with women antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum, give breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully breastfeed their babies. To do this the health professional needs to provide appropriate and correct information plus demonstrate a thorough practical knowledge of current breastfeeding management. All health professionals should check and follow local procedures to ensure the correct implementation of the ten steps plan in their organisation.

The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.

A 'Baby Friendly' health service is one where mothers' informed choice of feeding is supported, respected and encouraged and benefits all mothers regardless of how they decide to feed.

BFHI recognises that women have the right to make an informed decision about how to feed their babies and will provide support to mothers who choose to feed with a breastmilk substitute including infant formula.

During assessment the assessor will interview staff and mothers, make observations within the facility/community health service and review appropriate documentation, educational materials and any sample bags provided to parents.

BFHI accreditation is for a period of three years.

Note

Assessment of community health services (CHS) will acknowledge The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (especially where they overlap with services provided in the community) and the continued support needed for women after discharge from hospital to enable them to continue breastfeeding. BFHI in Community Health Services incorporates a 7 Point Plan.

The Australian 7 Point Plan is based on the Canadian Baby-Friendly™ Initiative (BFI)1 and the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative2.

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