The 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

Many hospitals are certified as 'Baby-Friendly,' meaning that they follow the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. These steps are 10 care practices, identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), that support breastfeeding in birthing facilities.

Each step is supported by best evidence and best practice to ensure that you and your baby have the best chance to begin breastfeeding successfully. Some hospitals that do not have the Baby-Friendly designation follow many or all of the steps anyway to promote exclusive breastfeeding among their maternity patients.

The 10 steps, recently updated in 2018, are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.

  2. Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding

  3. Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.

  4. Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.

  5. Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.

  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.

  7. Practice rooming in – enable mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

  8. Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding

  9. Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.

  10. Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care.

Hospitals that have the Baby-Friendly designation have gone through a rigorous, multi-year process in overhauling their pregnancy, birth and postpartum care to make sure it is aligned with the 10 steps. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, US Breastfeeding Committee and other national organizations recognize and support the 10 steps and WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. 

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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