What is Baby Friendly?

Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in New Zealand

The BFHI is a joint UNICEF and WHO project and aims to increase breastfeeding rates and encourage global breastfeeding standards for maternity services. Through this programme, hospitals and health care facilities are encouraged to adopt practices that fully protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding from birth (Ministry of Health 2002). The programme is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

In New Zealand all maternity services are required to achieve and maintain Baby Friendly Hospital accreditation. Nearly all services have achieved accreditation and 99.85% of infants born in maternity services are delivered in BFHI accredited facilities.

Unique features in NZ

  1. Maternity care is provided by Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs). Women can choose a midwife, obstetrician or general practitioner. LMCs may be employed by a maternity facility or work independently.
  2. The Treaty of Waitangi principles of partnership, participation and protection are an integral part of Baby Friendly Initiatives. The intent is to encourage consistent, evidence-based, culturally appropriate practice at all health care facilities.
  3. There has been consumer participation at all levels: in the development and review of BFHI and BFCI documents, as members of the NZBA Board and as BFHI assessors.
  4. Informed consent must be given by women, prior to being interviewed, during a BFHI assessment.