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UNICEF/WHO Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

To become a Baby Friendly Hospital, every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within half an hour of birth.

  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

  6. Give new-born infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, 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 artificial teats or pacifiers (dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.

  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a worldwide project of UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The goal of the initiative is to recognize hospitals and birth centers that take special steps to provide an optimal environment for breastfeeding. Approximately 14,000 hospitals worldwide have received this prestigious award. In the US, hospitals and birth centers may take a first step toward receiving Baby-Friendly designation through the Certificate of Intent program. For an application packet, call 1-508-888-8044. After receiving the Certificate of Intent, facilities continue to work toward full implementation of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. After a series of check-ins and phone interviews, when a facility indicates being close to being ready for a final assessment, a in depth phone interview is held. The final step is a site assessment at the facility. After the assessment, a review board decides whether or not to award the Baby-Friendly Hospital Award.

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