Deeble Issues Brief No 39: Improving the uptake of the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Australian hospitals

Andini Pramono

Breastfeeding is a normal biological process and protects the health and well-being of mothers and babies. Yet breastfeeding continues to be undervalued by society, and in Australia women face multiple barriers to breastfeeding in the home, community, health care system and workforce.

The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI), developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991, was designed to ensure that mothers receive adequate support to initiate breastfeeding and to continue doing so after discharge from the acute care service. In 1995, UNICEF passed the governance within Australia to the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) where it remains today. As of 2020, only 26% of Australian public hospitals have active Baby Friendly accreditation.