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What is The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative?


The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is an international programme launched in 1991 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to ensure all maternity services become centres of breastfeeding support worldwide.  Today more than 20,000 hospitals have been Baby Friendly Accredited in 156 countries worldwide.

The BFHI aims to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates and ensure evidenced-based best practice standards of care are offered by maternity services.  In Aotearoa New Zealand, currently 99.85 percent of infants born in maternity services are delivered in BFHI accredited services.  This has had positive results, with nearly 80% of babies exclusively breastfed on discharge from Baby Friendly hospitals.

NZBA is the national authority for the implementation of BFHI in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Accreditation assessment is based on WHO/UNICEF Global Hospital Assessment Criteria, that has been adapted for our unique health system.  In particular, evidence-based culturally appropriate practice is encouraged at all health care services where breastfeeding is initiated.

Aotearoa New Zealand's BFHI Accreditation recognises the following unique attributes:

  • Te Tiriti O Waitangii principles of protection, participation and partnership as an integral part of BFHI
  • Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) that are chosen by women for antenatal, birth and post-natal care, are are assessed to BFHI principles
  • Informed consent to participate in BFHI through consultation with community service providers and consumers.