Breastfeeding offers significant protection against illness for the infant and numerous health benefits for the mother, including a decreased risk of breast cancer. In 1991, UNICEF and WHO launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative with the aim of increasing rates of breastfeeding. “Baby-Friendly” is a designation a maternity site can receive by demonstrating to external assessors compliance with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Ten Steps are a series of best practice standards describing a pattern of care where commonly found practices harmful to breastfeeding are replaced with evidence based practices proven to increase breastfeeding outcome. Currently, approximately 19 250 hospitals worldwide have achieved Baby-Friendly status, less than 500 of which are found in industrialised nations. The Baby-Friendly initiative has increased breastfeeding rates, reduced complications, and improved mothers’ health care experiences.
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Competing interests: none declared
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