This updated implementation guidance is intended for all those who set policy for, or offer care to, pregnant women, families and infants: governments; national managers of maternal and child health programmes in general, and of breastfeeding- and BFHI-related programmes in particular; and health-facility managers at different levels (facility directors, medical directors, chiefs of maternity and neonatal wards). The document presents the first revision of the Ten Steps since 1989. The topic of each step is unchanged, but the wording of each one has been updated in line with the evidence-based guidelines and global public health policy.
The steps are subdivided into (i) the institutional procedures necessary to ensure that care is delivered consistently and ethically (critical management procedures); and (ii) standards for individual care of mothers and infants (key clinical practices). Full application of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes5 and relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions (the Code),6 as well as ongoing internal monitoring of adherence to the clinical practices, have been incorporated into step 1 on infant feeding policies.
WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) to help motivate facilities providing maternity and newborn services worldwide to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Ten Steps summarize a package of policies and procedures that facilities providing maternity and newborn services should implement to support breastfeeding. WHO has called upon all facilities providing maternity and newborn services worldwide to implement the Ten Steps.
The implementation guidance for BFHI emphasizes strategies to scale up to universal coverage and ensure sustainability over time. The guidance focuses on integrating the programme more fully in the health-care system, to ensure that all facilities in a country implement the Ten Steps. Countries are called upon to fulfill nine key responsibilities through a national BFHI programme.