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Blog Archive

Effective Communication

November 2019

Communications with your Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative team can sometimes go awry, causing issues with misinformation, negative responses, and more.  Those of us who lead the BFHI teams are often VERY passionate about what we believe to be the best for the facility staff and the families who birth there.  Occasionally, that passion translates as pushy, strident, or even demanding for others on the team.  How can we maintain that passion and communicate effectively?  The next several posts will be dedicated to more effective communication when working with BFHI for your facility.

workplace meeting

I recently read several articles in the online version of Entrepreneur magazine (references below) and decided to use some of their recommendations, with my tailoring toward the BFHI experience.

Suggestion #1: Listen more than you talk. There’s an old proverb that you have two ears and only one mouth, allowing you to listen twice as much as you talk! Listening to the feedback and concerns of those to whom you are providing more information is important. Their concerns are valid and may provide you with information you might not have thought about. Or information for which you have research or evidence-based data to provide more updated or correct information.

One example is the “cost of BFHI”, most likely the number one concern of administration and management. The idea of paying for the purchase of artificial infant milk (formula) for most managers and those in the purchasing department is new and foreign. For years, they’ve been receiving “free” infant feeding materials… AIM, bottles, teats, and more. To help put that cost in perspective, I was able to track the amount of AIM purchased over a six-month period, how much was actually used, how much was actually thrown away due to expiration date issues, and costs for each of those. With the much higher exclusive breastfeeding rates achieved in the facility on the BFHI pathway, more AIM was discarded than used. Alerting managers, administrators, and purchasers to this “throwaway” cost were very eye-opening. Provided alongside that data was a copy of the article on cost-savings in a BFHI facility (link below).

Using this data, for me, might not have been my first go-to in presenting and supporting the BFHI pathway. However, by listening to those concerns I was able to view those valid concerns and research the issues involved.
The most memorable feedback came from the facility CEO, who asked “why the hospital wasn’t paying for formula…that is was the ONLY food that was free. Why?“ For him, this information provided a turning point in his support for BFHI; he actually became our most ardent cheerleader and supporter!!

Happy holiday season!


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

Professional Development Educator



www.entrepreneur.com/article/300466 and www.entrepreneur.com/article/329212

Merewood, A. and Philipp, B.L. (2000). Becoming Baby-friendly: Overcoming the issue of accepting free formula. Journal of Human Lactation; 16(4): 29-282. https://doi.org/10.1177/089033440001600402

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