Essay on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

3 pages
751 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Term paper
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The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative program was launched by the WHO and UNICEF in 1991 with the main aim of improving and supporting maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed their newborns adequately. With ten-step criteria, the program aims at increasing exclusive breastfeeding to infants for the first six months after birth throughout the globe. This paper will delve into literature to identify and discuss the social, economic and cultural implications of this initiative as well as the obstacles that face its implantation to realize maximum benefits. It will also explore ways by which registered nurses can help in overcoming these challenge to achieve smooth implementation (Cardaci, 2017).

The initiative has various social implications for both the mother and the baby. It advocates for exclusive breastfeeding, which has many psychosocial benefits for the child and the mother (American Nurses Association, 2015). Mothers who had gained excessive weight during pregnancy and breastfeed often experience greater postpartum weight loss hence good social outlook. According to AWHONN (2015), in addition to strengthening the maternal-infant bonding at a young age, breastfeeding also helps in improving the cognitive and motor development of infants. Furthermore, the same study through early achievement milestone test found that breastfed infants were more likely to achieve optimal mental growth compared to bottle-fed infants.

Adoption of The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative can result in some economic benefits. The main benefit is due to improved health of the mother and baby and this translates into less spending on treatment of illnesses. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers incur less cost because they do not have to buy formula milk, which is expensive. Breastfeeding also reduces the incidences of breast cancer and other diseases such as Type 2 diabetes among breastfeeding mothers. For infants, breast milk protects them against illnesses such as gastroenteritis, ear infections, necrotizing enterocolitis and cardiovascular diseases. The reduced ailment incidences greatly reduce spending on medical care bills and this improves the economic status of the families in the long run (The Joint Commission, 2017).

This initiative has had cultural implications on various beliefs of different cultures about breastfeeding. Some cultures discourage women whose mothers had difficulty breastfeeding them from feeding their babies because they believe it is an inherited trait. In some cultures, colostrum is perceived to be harmful to the health of the baby, and hence mothers refrain from breastfeeding infants for the first few days of life. This initiative has had various positive implications in cultures where different beliefs have been causing mothers not to breastfeed. Continued emphasis and education on the benefits of breastfeeding infants from birth has led to the attainment of the positive implications.

In the journey to make The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative a success, various obstacles have been encountered and addressed by nurses. The aim is to ensure that the service provided is patient-centered care (CWRU, 2017). Among the obstacles is a failure to implement the initiative by some hospitals due to organizational policies. Reviewing of hospital policies to ensure that the steps of breastfeeding criteria are put into action will help to solve this issue. Another obstacle is a barrier at a personal level where the cultural beliefs of a mother may cause them to refuse breastfeeding. Nurses should take time to get to understand the perspectives of the mother then advising them on the benefits of breastfeeding. Nurses should also ensure that mothers are given information about breastfeeding right from the antenatal period as they come for regular checkups. Another barrier is lack of skills and knowledge about breastfeeding among nurses who are new. The lack of knowledge and skills can be addressed by continuous medical education to the nurses on issues of breastfeeding (Tseng, 2017).

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has helped to improve the breastfeeding practices of mothers globally. This initiative has had various social, economic and cultural implications associated with its implementation. It is clear that implementation of The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has experienced a myriad of challenges. To make the program a success, registered nurses have had to address the various obstacles to the implementation of the initiative.


BIBLIOGRAPHY American Nurses Association. (2015). Nutritional Needs of a Newborn. In A. N. Association,Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (pp. 102-156). Maryland: Silver Spring.

AWHONN. (2015). Breastfeeding. Journal of Obsetric, Gynaecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 145-150

Cardaci, R. (2017). Beyond Maternity Nursing: The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. American Journal of Nursing, 36-45.

CWRU. (2017). Quality and Safety Education for Nurses. QSEN Institute.

The Joint Commission. (2017). National Patient Safety Goals Effective January 2017. The Joint Commission, 1-15.

Tseng, T.-w. (2017). Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Practices: Challenges and Strategies. San Diego Breastfeeding Coalition.

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