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Funding for BFHI

November 2019

One of the first concerns for many birthing facilities investigating going Baby-friendly is the cost.  When the Catholic hospital where I was employed first began listening to the rationales presented about why BFHI was important, valuable, and useful for them, funding was the biggest obstacle.  Research shows that the BFHI Initiative actually saves facilities money, but our administration still expressed concern about how it would be funded and from whose department.  Many of you know exactly what I mean!

harley davidson

The BFHI team started brain-storming ideas for raising money: bake sales, resales, flea markets, pledges from businesses, and other suggestions were tossed to and fro, with none promising to raise much money in a short period of time. That is, until I suggested an idea with the local motorcycle club. A ride!! Since both my husband and I own and ride Harley Davidson motorcycles, this was something I’d participated in many times over the years. So why not ride for breastfeeding?

In the part of Texas where I live, there are low-lying hills with spectacular views. Bikers (motorcycle riders) come here from all over the US to ride in the Texas Hill Country. What if we hosted a bike ride through the Hill Country to raise the funding for BFHI? We decided upon a theme… Habits and Harleys… the nuns would ride with a biker in the local town parade, in full Catholic habits!

It was a huge hit, with over 100 bikes and riders, nuns on the backs of bikes and in sidecars, the local news stations and newspaper, and many parade watchers! Habits and Harleys made the front page of the local newspaper as well as several of the TV stations. We even had one nun in her 80’s who demanded to ride the full 50+ miles of the ride! To top it off, we were able to collect more than enough money to fully fund the BFHI program and were subsequently designated as the 18th Texas hospital and the first in central and south Texas to be BFHI. Since that time, two more of the system hospitals have achieved BFHI and several more are in the process.

We learned that thinking outside the breastfeeding box, so to speak, allowed us to enlist funders who had never heard of BFHI, were not connected to breastfeeding at any level, and have a great time in raising money. The advertising was amazing which helped in getting the word out to new families searching for a more mother-and-baby-friendly birthing experience. If we did it, so can YOU! Let me know what terrific ideas you’ve used to fund your BFHI Initiative.


Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC

Professional Development Educator




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