Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
Baby- Friendly Hospital is a global initiative that was launched by UNICEF and WHO in 1991 with an aim of enhancing breastfeeding in all hospitals in the world. A study by UNICEF (2013) indicates that the movement got a warm reception among health practitioners in the world, since by 2010, about 20,000 health facilities in the world had embraced this initiative and promoted exclusive breastfeeding attitudes within the hospital settings. For a hospital to achieve BFHI, it has to undergo a series of changes that are geared towards compliance with the child-friendly policies (UNICEF, 2013).
Although policies and culture of hospitals across the world varies, BFHI has stood out to be the greatest global initiative that has ever united health practitioners around common regulation, with the endeavor of developing healthier individuals from the first day of birth. The advantages of early breastfeeding initiatives in Bahamas are innumerable. The strategy has enhanced the healthy development of infants, mother, and the community. However, the act of breastfeeding among new mothers is a difficult course to undertake if there is no one to offer them with adequate support and education. A research by Ammeson (2011) on breastfeeding habits among lactating mothers in Bahamas indicates that a third of women who intended to feed their babies on breast milk exclusively for the first three months were successful. This was facilitated by the fact that most hospitals had developed an array of activities that supported positive breastfeeding attitudes.
In Cuba, breastfeeding regulations that are being implemented in Baby-Friendly hospitals puts more emphasis on mothers to exclusively feed infants on the breast milk after birth, and also promote strategies that enhance education of the patient on the significance of early feeding of the infant on breast milk. In addition, the BFHI puts more focus in the development of a strong bond between the infant and the mother through the mother feeding the child on the breast milk upon demand (UNICEF, 2013).
Another pertinent consideration in BFHI is the technique of practical application and the promotion of the attitude of the health caregivers towards the policy. For the policy to be of success, the nurses must be overboard by undertaking extra training to make them competent and thus leading to batter outcomes.
Despite the impact that BFHI has created in the world by providing more benefits to the infant and the mother, many people in Bahamas are still undereducated on the importance of Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, and lack the capacity on how to effectively implement these policies.
The Genesis of BFHI Framework
The baby Friendly Hospital initiative was pioneered by UNICEF and WHO and its implementation was rolled out to the rest of the world in 1991 (UNICEF, 2013). The primary goal of the initiative was to provide the hospital with birth resources and facilities, and the establishment of frameworks that enhanced successful breastfeeding attitudes. To achieve the BFHI goals, these organizations developed ten steps that inform successful breastfeeding habits that are timeless. The Innocenti Declaration of 1990 in Italy, proposed provision of resources and guidance to women on the importance of feeding the baby exclusively on milk for the first six month of life, then integrate food supplements afterward. The culture was supposed to be a worldwide movement that overrides any state’s regulations or culture.
Ten steps to successful breastfeeding by BFHI
According to Ammeson (2011) every health facility providing services to the infants and lactating mothers should;
- have an established written breastfeeding policy that is communicated to all health caregivers on how to implement and comply with BFHI status.
- II. The hospitals that have acquired BFHI have to train its nurses in the skills that will enable them implement this policy effectively
III. Educate all expectant women on the importance of feeding the baby on the breast milk during the antenatal care services.
- Provide support to the new mother in initiating breastfeeding attitudes within the first hour of birth. The one –on-one contact of the baby and the mother’s skin create a bond between the infant and the mother, and the also the mother can learn how to know when the baby wants breast milk
- Teach the mothers how to breastfeed even when they are separated from their babies due to their busy working schedule
- VI. Encourage mother not to give any food to the infant for the first six months unless if recommended by a health practitioners.
VII. Practice the habit of breastfeeding upon demand of the infant to enhance bonding
VIII. Promote attitude for the mother to breastfeed the infants for 24 hours upon demand.
- IX. Encourage mother not to use any form of artificial teats while feeding the infants
- Fostering the development of breastfeeding groups among mothers who have been discharged from the health facilities to encourage another mother to feed their babies on breast milk.
Benefits of feeding
Breast milk has many benefits to both the infant and the mother. According to UNICEF (2013), breast milk provides hydration and nutrients that are incomparable to any form of nutrition. When mothers feed babies on the breast milk upon demand, water in the Brest milk is enough for the baby to survive even in hot weather conditions without a need to take normal tap water. In addition, breastfeeding enables the baby to get antibodies that help him/her to fight diseases without which his immunity will be low. A child is always protected from diseases like cholera, obesity, and allergy if fed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months (Schulte, 2014). Furthermore, the Childs physical and psychological development is enhanced through breastfeeding. There is also a correlation between breastfeeding and IQ.
There are a number of problems that have hindered the implementation of BFHI in the world. In U.S.for example, some hospital staff are uncooperative and does not even know the BFHI policies since they are not adequately educated on this policies. The hospital routine and examination process that takes place immediately an infant is born like immunization and injection of vitamin K separates the mother from the baby at the crucial time when bonding is supposed to take place (Ammeson, 2011).
Role of Midwives in Promotion of BFHI
Midwives are crucial in the promotion of BFHI since they help expectant mothers during their pregnancy. This specialist can help in implementing these policies by teaching the mother on the importance of feeding the child on breast milk after birth. Other than educating the mother, midwives can also initiate the one-on-one contact of the baby and mother breasts immediately after birth, as they are the ones who oversee the delivery process. At the community level, midwives can help in initiating breast feeding groups, which can help to sensitize other members of the society on the need to feed the baby exclusively on breast milk (UNICEF, 2013).
Ammeson, J. (2011). Nurses at the forefront of Baby-Friendly hospital initiative. Hoffman Estates, IL: Gannett Healthcare Group.
Schulte, B. (2014, September 10). More U.S. hospitals adopting ‘baby-friendly’ policies. More U.S. Hospitals Adopting ‘baby-friendly’ Policies.
UNICEF. (2013). The baby-friendly hospitals initiative. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/programm/breastfeeding/babay.htm.