Our Lady of Holy Cross College
Malnutrition is responsible directly or indirectly, for about one third of deaths among children under five. Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are crucial for life-long health and wellbeing. Exclusive breastfeeding is known to benefit mother, child, environment, and to be cost- effective. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global effort that aims to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding. This paper will discuss the program’s history and purpose, and evaluate its success globally and by comparison in two states. Although the BFHI has been successful, barriers to breastfeeding still exist. Additional cost effective changes to promote breastfeeding must be explored and advocacy is encouraged. Keywords: malnutrition, breastfeeding, practices, baby-friendly, advocacy
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative: Breastfeeding for Life The experience of breastfeeding is essential and special for many reasons. It allows for maternal infant bonding, provides cost savings, and is the perfect nutrition for the infant or young child. It provides health benefits to the baby as well as the mother. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains disease fighting antibodies which help protect infants from bacterial and viral illness. Children, who are breastfed, demonstrate a decreased incidence of SIDS, obesity, diabetes asthma, and otitis media, and experience enhanced development and intelligence (Smithers &McIntyre, 2010). Mothers who breast feed have been shown to have a lower risk of health problems including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type II diabetes (Galston, 2008). These are just a few of the many known health benefits to child and mother. Environmentally, breastfeeding is good practice as there are no bottles or nipples which need a method of disposal, formula to be rendered, or supplies to be cleaned. The World Health Organization (2009) recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, and are exclusively breastfed for six months. Timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods are encouraged, while the baby continues to breastfeed for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as no other food and drink, including water, except breast milk, for the first 6 months of life. The policy allows the infant to receive rehydration salts, drops, and syrups (vitamins, minerals and medication) if needed. Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and often requires practice. For some women, the learning stages can be frustrating and uncomfortable. This frustration can be compounded if the baby is born premature; the mother has health issues, or needs a cesarean section. Aversion to breastfeeding also increases when the mother knows she must return to work, and will need to manage the issue of breast pumping. An additional option would be to have the baby nearby. Employers are commonly not supportive of the process, which can make continued breastfeeding a difficult concept for a new mother to comprehend. However, under the new health care reform law, employers are required to provide a private space and breaks for pumping (Rubin, 2010). In underdeveloped and poor areas, supportive factors such as education and training are also in short supply. The Baby- Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global effort which targets these issues through awareness and education in the hospital setting. Health Policy and Organizational Support
BFHI is a program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). It was launched in 1991 in response to the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. At least 30 governments signed on to this declaration, a document that set ambitious standards for...