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Top Ten Ways to Encourage Breastfeeding

Last week the world celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with a focus on the ten steps every health facility should take to promote successful breastfeeding. This includes:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming in—allow mothers and infants to remain together—24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

In Ethiopia, a collaborative group of organizations—the Federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Alive and Thrive, PATH, IYCN, and the IntraHealth-led Community PMTCT project—celebrated the week by deploying community health workers, known as urban health extension workers, to hand out 20,000 stickers promoting breastfeeding in three of the major languages Amharic, Oromiffa, and Tigrinya. These community health workers also go house to house teaching mothers how to breastfeed and encouraging them to continue the practice. Ethiopia aims to certify 20% of its hospitals as baby-friendly spaces that promote breastfeeding by 2013. Although nearly 70% of Ethiopian babies are initiated into breastfeeding soon after birth, only 50% of those six months or younger are exclusively breastfed.

Click here for more information on Breastfeeding Week in Ethiopia.

Click here for more information on the importance of breastfeeding.