It is rather surprising that one should need to market a natural product (Breastmilk) and publicize a natural phenomenon (Breastfeeding). According to a study (The Lancet, 2003), the single best intervention that can reduce mortality among children under 5 years of age by 15% is breastfeeding.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternities whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support. A hospital can be designated 'baby-friendly' when it does not accept free or low-cost breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats.
Every year, the first week of August is celebrated as World breastfeeding week. The theme for this year (2010) is “Breastfeeding – just 10 steps! – the baby friendly way”. This is to draw attention to the role of Ten Steps in improving breastfeeding rates and renew action by health systems, health care providers and communities to make breastfeeding the easy choice for women. People everywhere should be well informed regarding the risks of artificial feeding and the role of breastfeeding for children’s development and lifelong health and the health of mothers.
Next time, you plan to take a antenatal mother or a baby to a hospital, make sure the hospital is baby friendly, and has implemented the following 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding.
Ten steps to promote breastfeeding
- Hospitals to have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
- Train all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding soon after birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their babies.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming-in, allowing mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or dummies to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.