It gives me great pleasure to inform you that we have reached an important milestone: 500 Baby-Friendly designated facilities in the United States!!
When I first joined Baby-Friendly USA in 2010, there were less than 100 designated hospitals in the US. Those numbers have changed dramatically over the past few years. Reaching the 500 mark means that:
- Approximately 1 in 6 hospitals or birthing centers in the US are Baby-Friendly designated; and
- Approximately 24% of babies born in the US are born in Baby-Friendly designated facilities.
In another month or two, we will achieve another important milestone: one million babies born each year in Baby-Friendly facilities.
I’m so pleased for all the people that have dedicated their talents and energies to promote Baby-Friendly practices over the past few years – our staff, our board, our global sponsors, technical assistance providers, professional organizations, government agencies, and the thousands of committed individuals on the front lines of our hospitals and birthing centers. But mostly, I’m happy for the thousands – soon to be millions – of mothers and babies across our land who now have the opportunity to bond in a supportive environment in which evidenced-based care is provided, education is free from commercial interests, and mothers are supported in reaching their infant feeding goals.
We still have many challenges ahead as we look forward to the day when we double our reach and designate 1,000 facilities. In recent months, Baby-Friendly has been the subject of some very public critiques of our work. Some of this push-back has been constructive and helpful. Patient satisfaction and safe implementation of practices are of utmost importance and feedback on ways to improve in both areas is extremely valuable for us. In other cases, however, it has been misguided and displays a basic misunderstanding of what the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is all about.
I am heartened by the fact that for every unconstructive critique, there are many more emails in my inbox carrying an over-the-moon grateful message from an administrator, practitioner or patient whose life has been changed for the better by Baby-Friendly practices. Recently, for example, I received a wonderful video produced by recently-designated St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, NY. Please watch it – THIS is what Baby-Friendly is all about!
(If you have created similar messages in your facility, please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We also face challenges ahead regarding possible changes the WHO and UNICEF are considering making to the Ten Steps. We have been working tirelessly to ensure that our voices are heard through a comprehensive global review of the proposed revisions focused on what’s best for mothers and babies. We will have more to report about these efforts soon.
For now, this is a moment to celebrate all that we have collectively achieved and the many ways our efforts are helping to improve how families nurture and nourish their newborns.
Thank you for all you do in support of Baby-Friendly.