Within the BFHI guidance, it’s clear that the infant feeding policy is not intended to be only a standalone document that collects dust on a shelf. A significant aspect of Step 1 is how the policy is disseminated to staff, volunteers, patients and the public - a public commitment to implementing the 10 Steps and measuring progress.
What does dissemination look like in practice? How can we use it as a tool to both celebrate successes and educate families, staff and volunteers on what to expect?
In most instances, staff will be oriented to an infant feeding policy the way they are to all facility policies - through the on-boarding process. Training of all staff and volunteers on BFHI practices, according to their function within the facility, is an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding of the policy itself and how each role within the team contributes positively.
Ensuring that parents, beginning prenatally, and members of the public know about the facility’s infant policy and commitment to BFHI is an important factor - so that all those receiving care know what to expect and where to find more information. When a facility first gets accredited as Baby-Friendly, there is frequently a great deal of communication in celebration, but this can fall off as the BFHI practices become (as we hope!) the norm.
What an infant feeding policy means for their care during pregnancy, labour and delivery and postpartum should be easily accessible to parents, including how to address concerns. Communication to patients is a skill set on its own and this is where having had expertise in non-clinical areas like communications or fundraising on the policy development team will be helpful.
Dissemination to the public requires planning, resources and on-going commitment to ensuring that materials are fresh and relevant to the communities served, as well as listening for concerns and needs from the public to inform new materials and plans.
How does your facility promote its infant feeding policy and/or BFHI status? Does the dissemination get enough attention?
World Health Organization. (2017). National implementation of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative. Accessed March 10 2021 at https://www.who.int/nutrition/bfhi/bfhi-poster-A2.pdf?ua=1
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