With 3 recent additions—Northern Navajo Medical Center and Gallup Indian Medical Center, both in New Mexico, and Blackfeet Community Hospital in Montana—all 13 IHS hospitals that offer obstetric services have been designated as Baby-Friendly facilities.
IHS began its evidence-based Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in 2011 as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! in Indian Country” campaign, aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Breast-feeding has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes for both mother and infant and reduce a baby’s risk of obesity by about one-third. The BFHI is co-administered by the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
Through the Baby-Friendly program, new mothers are educated about and staff are trained to support breast-feeding. Since the program began, IHS says rates of breast-feeding initiation have been consistently in the 90th percentile.