In collaboration with the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada (BCC), St. Paul’s Hospital was part of a 30-month quality improvement initiative that emphasizes the importance of healthy infant feeding, based on the goals of the parents. This change is part of a global effort to support parents in breastfeeding/chestfeeding their children and as a continued effort we’re working towards a BCC Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) designation.

To become BFI designated, health care organizations to and fulfill the requirements of the 10 Steps as outlined by WHO/UNICEF (2018) and adapted by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada for all health care institutions. Once ready, this process is evaluated by a team of BFI assessors.

At Providence, our goal is to continuously improve practices and work towards meeting the national guidelines for St. Paul’s Hospital to be designated as a Baby Friendly Hospital. Our first step is the creation of a breastfeeding space at the Burrard building on the 3rd floor (Room 372).

Next, we’re rolling out a course for all new staff that will be completed as part of New Employee Orientation.

The BFI is designed to support the lactating needs of anyone who sets foot in our facilities, including:

• Persons giving birth at St. Paul’s Hospital
• Pregnant person/lactating person being cared for in hospital
• Staff, volunteers and visitors
• Members of the community

Each area is an opportunity for our organization to welcome and support breastfeeding/chestfeeding.

“The Baby Friendly Initiative has been a part of Providence Health Care’s continuous push for quality improvement,” says Fiona Dalton, President and CEO. “This 30-month project is part of our deep commitment to healthy infant feeding – for people who choose to deliver at St. Paul’s Hospital, and for those who work here.”

Fiona adds Providence is creating an environment that supports people to feed their babies as they need to.

“By doing this work, we’re encouraging a safe and welcoming culture not only for patients, but also for staff and medical staff who are returning to work after maternity/paternity leave. The Baby Friendly Initiative is about a total cultural shift as an organization, and is one that we can all be proud to have here at Providence.”

The different work Providence is undertaking for each group is summarized below.

1 – BFI in maternity:
Healthy infant feeding at Providence Health Care starts with prenatal education. This ensures all mothers receiving care at our facilities are able to make informed choices on the best feeding practice for their child and that they feel supported in their decisions. We achieve this through education on feeding and skin-to-skin contact, a colostrum kit program, and a breastfeeding medicine clinic that aims to help with concerns about milk supply and impacts from past breast surgeries.

2 – BFI for pregnant or lactating persons being cared for in hospital
Providence Health Care supports parents, including support for skin-to-skin contact during uncomfortable procedures for baby, and access to a breastfeeding space on the 3rd floor of the Burrard Building at St. Paul’s Hospital (Room 372).

3 – BFI for staff, volunteers and visitors
Staff, volunteers and visitors will have access to the breastfeeding space at St. Paul’s Hospital, and can feed/pump wherever they need to. All new staff at our organization will be educated on the BFI efforts and the rights of parents to feed their children, and it will encourage employees to support colleagues and volunteers if they need to feed during their shifts.

4 – BFI in our community
We are running a parent support group in the community to connect new parents to education beyond discharge from our facilities.

What does BFI look like for our patients and staff?

When Dr. Nicol​​e Jedrzejko came to our Pregnancy, Birthing and Newborn Centre, she knew she was working with a team of staff she could trust. As a surgical resident, she was supported to continue working through the last five months of her pregnancy – her program moved her to St. Paul’s Hospital so she could be close to her doctor.

When she went into labour she came straight to the maternity ward. As a health care professional, Nicole has seen a lot of obstetrical problems and was prepared for the worst. However, her daughter was born in five hours with the help of a great team and amazing nurse who was there for both delivery and discharge.

When describing her impression of the maternity team, she said that “staff put the patients’ needs first. Egos aren’t a part of it – people will ask for help, and those with knowledge will share it with others.”

The lactation consultants gave her the skills and understanding to feel confident going home with her baby, and the parenthood meetups help address other areas of information like managing maternal stress, sleep tips and tricks, and additional information on breastfeeding. She acknowledged that even with all of her research, she still had a lot of questions about raising her daughter and felt like they were answered throughout her time at the hospital.

The Breastfeeding Initiative ensures that new parents like Nicole feel supported through pregnancy, delivery, and beyond.

How can you support the Baby Friendly Initiative?

Read the Infant Feeding Policy.

Visit our new page for the Baby Friendly Initiative, or the Pregnancy, Birthing and Newborn Centre website​

Support your colleagues and their right to collect/feed in all of our facilities, and in any space within.

Learn more about the Baby Friendly Initiative on the Breastfeeding Council of Canada’s website.

Learn where the St. Pauls’ Hospital breastfeeding room is for parents who may want to access a private space (3rd floor Burrard building, Room 372).