BC Women’s Hospital designated World Health Organization/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital

BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre today became the largest specialized hospital in Canada to be designated a World Health Organization (WHO) Baby-Friendly Hospital. This designation recognizes BC Women’s commitment to enabling mothers to breastfeed their newborn babies giving them the best start in life.

Created by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1991, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative acknowledges hospitals whose maternity services actively promote breastfeeding of babies by new moms. A rigorous assessment was conducted in July by a team that spent 72 consecutive hours on site, interviewing families and staff, and observing care.

“Congratulations to BC Women’s on receiving this important designation from the World Health Organization, ” says Healthy Living and Sport Minister Mary Polak. “Breastfeeding not only provides a strong bond between mother and child but also provides significant long term health benefits for both.”

“We are extremely proud of the efforts of the BC Women’s team in becoming the largest specialized hospital in Canada to be designated as Baby Friendly,” says Wynne Powell, Board Chair, Provincial Health Services Authority. “BC Women’s continues to set the standard for maternity care.”

Research has shown that breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for both babies and their mothers. Newborns are at less risk of gastro-intestinal infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections, allergy related conditions and insulin-dependent diabetes. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hip fractures and low bone density as well as type 2 diabetes.

“We take seriously our responsibility to support new mothers in making informed choices about feeding their infants,” says Dr. Elizabeth Whynot, President, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. “Whether new moms choose to breast or bottle feed our teams of physicians, midwives, nurses and other health care professionals are there to assist.”

“We were extremely impressed with the innovative programs BC Women’s offers during our assessment,” says Marianne Brophy, Co-Chair, Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. “It was gratifying to see the engagement at all levels of such a large organization and we are convinced that this excellent quality of care will continue long into the future.”

Each year more 7,500 babies are born at BC Women’s with 85 percent of them being breastfed when they leave hospital. Whether breast or bottle fed, BC Women’s is committed to giving newborn babies the best start in life.