Baby-Friendly USA recently made its Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria for Facilities Seeking Baby-Friendly Designation available online. This should make it easier for hospitals and birth centers to successfully address the “barriers related to health service” identified in the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (e.g., a low priority given to support for breastfeeding and education about it, inappropriate routines and provision of care, fragmented care, and inadequate hospital facilities for women who are breastfeeding).
For the first time, U.S. health care providers looking for more guidance than The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (available on the Baby-Friendly USA site and reprinted verbatim in the Surgeon General’s report) now have a complete resource to guide the care they provide to breastfeeding mothers and babies.
A three-page Preamble sets the scene, summarizing health benefits and cost savings of breastfeeding, enumerating the Healthy People 2010 breastfeeding goals, and explaining the development of the criteria. Then, each of the Ten Steps is explained in turn, with detailed guidelines and criteria for evaluation. A three-page appendix details 20-hour competency course topics and skills. A second appendix identifies the “acceptable medical reasons for use of breast-milk substitutes.” The final appendix defines terms used within the document, including “exclusive breast milk feeding,” “fair market value,” and so on.
This document is sure to be an important resource for health care providers seeking to improve their care of breastfeeding dyads, whether or not they ultimately seek “baby-friendly” distinction.