By Broderick Rhyant, M.D.,
chief physician executive
with Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor
The worldwide Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched in 1991 in support of worldwide breastfeeding, which is a program fully endorsed by Eskenazi Health.
Breastfeeding is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the multitude of proven reasons why it’s highly-beneficial to both mothers and newborns.
The CDC states that infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, along with better odds of avoiding gastrointestinal infections such as diarrhea and vomiting. Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
The purpose of BFHI is to ensure that mothers and newborns receive timely and appropriate care before and during their stay in a facility providing maternity and newborn services, and to enable the establishment of optimal feeding of newborns, which promotes their health and development.
Established by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the BFHI is a global program supporting the implementation of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the Ten Steps) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the International Code) in maternity facilities.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals and Health Centers to follow are:
1 A. Comply fully with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions. 1 B. Have a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents.1 C. Establish ongoing monitoring and data-management systems.
- Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support.
- Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.
- Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.
- Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.
- Do not provide breastfed newborns any food or fluids other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
- Enable mothers and their infants to remain together and to practice rooming-in 24 hours a day.
- Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding.
- Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, artificial nipples (teats) and pacifiers.
- Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care.
Baby Friendly does not shame moms who choose to formula feed or whose babies require formula. It’s about putting practices in place that support and empower a parent’s decision on how she wants to feed her baby, and then providing the timely support and resources for her to meet that goal.
For more information about Family Beginnings and the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at Eskenazi Health, visit: