Awareness of the importance of breastfeeding is growing fast. However there is still lack of understanding about how to help mothers, even among well-educated health professionals. This is not their fault; established medical practices have unknowingly damaged breastfeeding for years. Now practices are changing. In both rich and poor regions, enlightened health authorities encourage the reform of hospital practices and community support for breastfeeding. Training for health professionals is improving. Global initiatives such as The WHO/UNICEF3 Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) promote 'The Ten Steps To Successful Breast-feeding'. These are based on the best knowledge of practices which help mothers and babies breastfeed happily right from the start. WHO and UNICEF urge all health professionals to implement The Ten Steps in all health facilities.
3 WHO is the World Health Organization. UNICEF is the United Nations' Children's Fund. These organizations work together to promote breastfeeding.
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
In an emergency we cannot wait for practices to change. When water or fuel supplies are disrupted, breastfeeding can save lives. Breastfeeding keeps babies and toddlers healthy and well nourished, even in bad conditions; it can also protect women's health.