Announcing the new Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) Standards for Maternity Facilities. 

In a week of celebration around breastfeeding, the Australian College of Midwives is pleased to announce the release of the latest Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) Standards for Maternity Facilities. 

BFHI is a joint World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF project that aims to create a healthcare environment where breastfeeding is the norm, and practices known to promote the wellbeing of all mothers and infants are encouraged. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are the global criteria against which maternity facilities are assessed and accredited.

Baby Friendly accreditation is a quality assurance measure that demonstrates a maternity facility’s commitment to offer the highest standard of maternity care to mothers and babies. Attaining accreditation signifies that the facility is committed to evidence-based, best-practice maternity care. It also ensures that every mother is supported with her informed choice of infant feeding during her transition to motherhood.

In a Baby Friendly facility, a mother’s informed choice of infant feeding is encouraged, respected and supported. At no time are mothers ‘forced’ to breastfeed. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are beneficial for all mothers and babies, promoting bonding, parental responsiveness, empowerment and informed choice - regardless of feeding method. 

In a Baby Friendly facility, breastfeeding mothers are given consistent, accurate information and support. In many cases the duration of breastfeeding is extended.

BFHI accreditation, which occurs every three years, ensures regular independent assessment, and provides facilities with the framework and support to continuously improve. It ensures that mothers themselves are heard when it comes to the experience of their care. It draws attention to areas of excellence and can improve staff morale.

BFHI accreditation, with its focus on education and training, also aids recruitment and retention of staff through increased professional development opportunities and increased job satisfaction.

Baby Friendly accredited facilities in Australia are listed on the ACM website (you can view BFHI accredited facilities via this link), and can be accessed by consumers to help them make the decision about where to birth their babies.

Assessments on the new Standards will be gradually phased in during 2017.

•    Facilities who are currently preparing for assessment under the old standards (2009) will be assessed according to the old standards.
•    Currently accredited facilities may begin to implement the new standards.
•    A transitional period will be implemented for currently accredited facilities working towards the new standards (2016). The BFHI Manager will work with all facilities to support them through this transition phase.

Facilities looking to become Baby Friendly can also begin to implement the new standards as best practice and can contact the BFHI Manager, Nicole Perriman on 0417 544 824 or for information about BFHI accreditation and to book an assessment.

The Australian College of Midwives would like to take this opportunity to thank the BFHI community for the tremendous amount of work undertaken in reviewing the Standards, in particular Ros Escott and Margo Canino.

Baby Friendly Health Initiative breastfeeding