The core purpose of the BFHI is to ensure that mothers and newborn infants receive timely and appropriate care before and during their stay in a facility providing maternity and newborn services, to enable the establishment of optimal feeding of newborn infants, thereby promoting their lifetime health and development. Given the proven importance of breastfeeding, the BFHI protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding. At the same time, it also aims to enable appropriate optimal care and feeding of newborn infants who are not (yet or fully) breastfed, or not (yet) able to do so.
Families must receive quality and unbiased information about infant feeding. Facilities providing maternity and newborn services have a responsibility to promote breastfeeding, but they must also respect the mother’s preferences and provide her with the information required to make an informed decision about the best feeding option for her and her baby in her particular circumstances. The facility has an obligation to support mothers to successfully feed their newborn infants in the manner they choose.
The 7 Point Plan is the framework to which community facilities are assessed and incorporates the 2018 revised version of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The 7 Point Plan is now separated into Critical Management Procedures, which provide an enabling environment for sustainable implementation within a facility, and Key Clinical Practices, which delineate the care that each mother and baby should receive. The Key Clinical Practices are evidence-based interventions to support mothers to successfully establish breastfeeding.