As anyone who has been through the Baby-Friendly designation process can tell you, accreditation by BFUSA is a significant challenge for any facility. The process will compel your leaders and staff to examine, challenge and modify long-standing policies and procedures and, in some cases, deeply-held views. This is never easy. But it is an extremely rewarding journey that will completely transform the way you practice maternity and infant feeding care and will establish your facility as a global leader in providing evidence-based maternity care practices to support optimal infant feeding.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have called for 100% scale-up of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and implementation of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding at every facility providing maternity and newborn services. External assessment, such as the Baby-Friendly designation, is essential to independently and objectively evaluate if a facility has properly implemented the Ten Steps.
We occasionally hear people ask, “Couldn’t we just implement all the steps and policies without jumping through the hoops BFUSA requires for designation?” Our response: it is not the same. Self-auditing and non-accredited facilities are not responsible to any overseeing authorities and, therefore, cannot be bench-marked against relevant standards. In contrast, a third-party certification body, such as BFUSA, provides an external verification of quality and safety based on established standards and holds facilities accountable.
Most importantly, going through a rigorous, structured designation process helps you to create well-defined goals and milestones, establish a clear pathway for implementation, and keep your staff focused on a “prize.” And it gives you an enormous cause for pride and celebration once designation is achieved. Along the way, this disciplined pursuit enhances leadership skills, increases staff competence and teamwork, and bolsters your quality improvement capacities.
At the end of the process, your facility will have the “stamp of approval” from an independent, third-party certification body as confirmation that you provide evidence-based, best practice care. That’s a critical foundation for creating cohesion and confidence among your providers and for building your facility’s reputation in your community.
Only facilities that have completed the Baby-Friendly designation process through BFUSA are permitted to call themselves “Baby-Friendly” in the United States. Designation is a significant achievement and the Baby-Friendly label has value. It brands your facility as top quality, as not willing to take short cuts, and as committed to providing optimal infant feeding care to 100% of your patients 100% of the time.
That’s why more and more birthing facilities in the United States are choosing to become Baby-Friendly designated. We hope you will decide to do so as well.
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