June 1, 2018
WHO and Unicef issue guidance to promote breastfeeding worldwide
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef have issued new ten-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding underpin the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, which both organisations launched in 1991. The practical guidance encourages new mothers to breastfeed and informs health workers how best to support breastfeeding.
It describes practical steps that countries should take to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services. They provide the immediate health system platform to help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and breastfeed exclusively for six months.
According to the guidance hospitals should have a written breastfeeding policy in place, staff competencies, and antenatal and post-birth care, including breastfeeding support for mothers. It also recommends limited use of breast milk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.