Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)


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. In New Zealand, all maternity services are required to achieve and maintain BFHI accreditation. The standards of care and services provided are audited by the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA) every three to four years.

All maternity hospitals are encouraged to become baby friendly by adopting the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and providing good care to mothers and their babies before, during and after birth. A baby-friendly hospital also agrees not to accept free or low cost breastmilk substitutes (baby formula), feeding bottles or teats.

Breastfeeding lays the foundation for good health in infancy, childhood and adult life. Breastfeeding helps reduce rates of childhood infections and protects against later obesity and diabetes. For nursing mothers, breastfeeding also lowers the chance of breast cancer.  The BFHI programme encourages hospitals and health care facilities - particularly maternity wards - to adopt practices that fully protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding from birth.

The BFHI aims to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates and ensure evidenced-based best practice standards of care are offered by maternity services. Baby friendly facilities work to see that all women, regardless of their feeding method, receive unbiased information, support and professional advice in their decision to feed their babies. Last year nearly 85% of women were exclusively breastfeeding at discharge from Ata Rangi and Waioha.

Accreditation involves support by our wider team of Midwives (LMC’s), Core Midwives and Registered Nurses, Hearing Screeners, phlebotomists, cleaners, Lactation Consultants, Junior doctors, Registrars, Obstetricians Anaesthetists, Paediatricians and Special Care Baby Unit staff. The
presentation of the certificate recognises the ongoing commitment to breastfeeding and the baby friendly initiative.