UNICEF Celebrates World Breastfeeding Month With 10 Steps
As you may already know, Ready Made is a proponent of
UNICEF has set up these 10 steps to bring awareness to health care facilities worldwide of the importance of breast feeding:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff. The 10 steps call for health facilities to have written policies that are displayed for all to read, indicating that staff is committed to implementing them.
2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy. Training at all levels should address the 10 steps, breastfeeding, counselling, and the International Code.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. By the time a baby is born, the new mother must be comfortable about breastfeeding, understand its benefits, and what she has to do.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth. This step now means, for all healthy newborns, skin-to-skin contact from immediately after delivery for at least one hour or until the baby has attached and fed at the breast if this takes longer.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants. Helping mothers to breastfeed effectively with a good technique is a vital step. If infants are separated from their mothers, or are unable to suckle, their mothers need to express their milk. Health workers need skills to help mothers do these things.
6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated. Families and health workers may believe that infants need pre-lacteal feeds of formula or glucose water or other drinks before their mother’s milk “comes in.” This may lead to failure to breastfeed. Infant formula and advertisements in maternities can mislead people on this important point. Breast milk is pure and complete, while giving babies water or other liquids can pose risks due to contaminated water.
7. Practice rooming-in—that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day. In many hospitals, newborns are kept in nurseries after delivery. Rooming-in allows mothers and their babies to stay together day and night to bond and to establish breastfeeding.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Babies should feed according to their needs, not a schedule decided by the hospital or mother. Understanding her infant’s feeding cues improved breastfeeding and the mother-child relationship.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants. During the early weeks, the baby’s need to suckle should be satisfied at the breast. Using teats or pacifiers may interfere with suckling and the adjustment of the breast milk supply to the baby’s requirements.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic. Breastfeeding support groups are often part of a community nutrition strategy. Peer counsellors are women from the community who receive training in breastfeeding support. They often contact mothers in their homes. They are very effective in increasing exclusive breastfeeding.
With these 10 steps becoming increasingly popular in health care clinics around the world, UNICEF is winning the breast feeding cause. We congratulate those new mothers that start and continue to breast feed and the facilities that have been named ‘baby friendly’ by instituting the 10 steps.