The Truth about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (or What Whoopi Goldberg Should Have Known Before Bashing BFHI on The View)

When Whoopi Goldberg lambasted Mayor Bloomberg for recommending that the New York City hospitals strive for the Baby-Friendly Hospital status, she clearly did not have all of the facts. 


Maybe it was because CBS ran the story with the title: NYC’s ‘Baby Friendly Initiative’ Pushes More Moms To Breastfeed


‘PUSHES’ moms to breastfed….hmmm…. I don’t recall that being the purpose of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). 


Here is what Whoopi would have found out, had she done any amount of research about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI):

1. Mayor Bloomberg did not create BFHI.  The World Health Organization and UNICEF sponsor BFHI and the BFHI USA was established in 1997….over 15 year ago!  Mayor Bloomberg is just NOW finally realizing the importance of it for his city.

2. If Whoopi would have read the mission of BFHI, she would have found that its mission is to help and support mothers who want to breastfeed and eliminate behaviors that sabotage a women’s chance to breastfeed, starting in the hospital.  Isn’t this the GOLD standard that every mother deserves?


"The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.


3. Here’s how BFHI ensures that all moms receive the necessary support in the hospital, should they choose to breastfeed their babies:


The Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding 

The BFHI promotes, protects, and supports breastfeeding through The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals, as outlined by UNICEF/WHO. The steps for the United States are:

1 -

Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

2 -

Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

3 -

Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4 -

Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

5 -

Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

6 -

Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7 -

Practice “rooming in”-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8 -

Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9 -

Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

10 -

Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic


4. Breastfeeding advocates know that some mothers may not be able to fully breastfeed their babies, which can be based on her anatomy, history of breast surgeries, or her baby’s birth history.  Sometimes it takes longer than a few days for a mother’s milk supply to ‘come in’ fully.  In these cases, a mother will need to supplement her baby, whether it be with donor breast milk or formula.  BFHI just makes sure that formula isn’t routinely sent home in every hospital diaper bag, which can sabotage a new mom when she is most vulnerable.  


Whoopi, this is the deal…. The FIRST rule of breastfeeding is FEED THE BABY.  The SECOND rule of breastfeeding is PROTECT MOM’S MILK SUPPLY.  Giving out formula in hospital bags impairs Rule #2.  If a mother needs to give her baby formula, then she can go to any grocery store and buy it.  She doesn’t need it staring her in the face when she is wondering if her baby is getting enough from the breast.  What she DOES need is the phone number of a local lactation consultant (IBCLC), who can help her if she needs to increase her supply to feed her baby more effectively. 


How about sending THAT PHONE NUMBER home in the hospital diaper bag???? 


So, Whoopi’s misinformation is exactly what Best for Babes would classify as a societal ‘Booby Trap.’  She turned Mayor Bloomberg’s benevolent initiative (to offer new mothers the best education they can receive) into a false proclamation that Bloomberg is going to FORCE ALL women to breastfeed.  Even with BFHI, it is always up to the mother whether she chooses to breastfeed her infant.  BFHI just ensures that all moms and babies are set up for breastfeeding success from Day 1 and that they receive the best support and education possible, should they need it.


Whoopi, don’t you think that all mothers deserve the right to receive enough support to meet their personal breastfeeding goals????