The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Ten pillars of successful breastfeeding
Every member of the hospital staff that will directly or indirectly contact the mothers should have basic knowledge about breastfeeding. Such details should be penned down and easy to refer to or present to a new member of staff.
Practical sessions should be organised to train the members of staff on what has been written down. For example, each member of staff should be able to demonstrate to the mothers how they can position the baby properly for breastfeeding.
Pregnant women should be put through the benefits of breastfeeding throughout their antenatal visits and contact with the hospital, either through general organised sessions or one on one as they visit. Printed leaflets will also go a long way to achieve this.
Sometimes, the healthcare providers can so focus on keeping the mother stable that they forget the newborn needs to get fed and that quickly. Unless where otherwise indicated, help both mother and child to get on with breastfeeding within 30 minutes of delivery.
It is not enough to tell the mother to start breastfeeding, show them how (positioning and sitting posture) and make sure they get it right. Should there be a need for separation, either the baby is admitted into a neonatal unit or the mother is admitted, they should be allowed some time together, mother should express milk from their breast too where direct breastfeeding may be impossible.
This will prevent breast engorgement and abscess in the mother.
The breast milk contains all the baby needs – nutrients, water. A lot of people feel an irresistible urge to quench the baby’s thirst with water. Breast milk is ENOUGH!
Bonding between mother and child is very important especially in those first days, weeks and months of the baby’s existence. Neonatal baby units and wards usually have a room and space for mothers to be as close to their babies as possible in the event that the baby is admitted.
Feed the baby as often as possible, theirs isn’t thrice a day.
You know those “mouth plugs” and mouth pieces to stop the baby from crying? Stop using them.
A breastfeeding group or club doesn’t sound bad, there’s strength in numbers so why not.
It is advocated that babies be exclusively breastfed for 4-6 months, that is, at least 4 months of breastmilk only without water or any other thing. Other fluids should be introduced from 6 months. This is the ideal and best practice. Workplace practices should cater for this provision to encourage women to comply as possible.
Oluwatosin Fatade (MB;BS Ib)