Winter Haven Women’s Hospital (WHWH) is the first in Polk County to earn Baby-Friendly designation.
To be designated as a Baby-Friendly hospital by the global Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, a facility must offer an optimal level of care and provide mothers with the education, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
The five-step process for designation took two years to complete. It started in October of 2016 when the hospital submitted top leadership’s commitment to the initiative and completed an appraisal of its practice of the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
These actions were recognized by the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition with WHWH’s first “Florida Quest for Quality Maternity Care Award.” The Coalition, a partner with the BFHI, distributes additional awards to mark the achievements required to attain Baby- Friendly designation:
• Two Star Award for creating a plan to achieve the designation with policies following the WHO/UNICEF standards and a training curriculum for staff. WHWH achieved this award in March 2017.
• Three Star Award for implementing the plan and providing regular communication to staff on progress and data collection. WHWH achieved this award in Sept. 2017.
• Four Star Award for implementation of all ten WHO/UNICEF standards with regular performance evaluations of each step. WHWH achieved this award in Feb. 2018.
Following the fourth award, WHWH applied for formal designation and completed an on-site assessment with BFHI officials in November 2018. The Baby-Friendly designation was awarded in March.
“I am so proud of this team for their work towards this designation,” said Jennifer Richards, the Director of Patient Services at the Women’s Hospital. “Being Baby-Friendly means we are fully supporting breastfeeding moms with their goals and creating a baby-friendly environment to foster family bonding.”
There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly facilities in the world, but only 575 in the United States. Twenty- six are in Florida. The designation lasts for five years, and re-designation is only given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed and annual submittal of statistics.
For more information about the BFHI and statistics on breastfeeding, contact Baby- Friendly USA, the accrediting body and national authority for BFHI in the United States, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.