Every August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and the first week of the month is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Sponsored by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (aka WABA), the goal is to bring attention to the issue of breastfeeding on a global scale and promote the benefits of it while providing encouragement to nursing mothers and those that support them. Every year, WABA selects a theme for WBW, and states the objectives of this theme.
For 2010, WABA wants to promote 10 steps for breastfeeding the baby-friendly way. These steps are directed at “Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants”. The objectives of the 10 steps are to:
- Draw attention to the role of the Ten Steps in improving breastfeeding rates
- Renew action by health systems, health care providers and communities to make breastfeeding the easy choice for women.
- Inform people everywhere of the risks of artificial feeding, and the role of breastfeeding for children’s development and lifelong health and the health of mothers.
- Enable mothers to enjoy full support for breastfeeding in health care systems and beyond.
The 10 Steps proposed by the WABA are:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
With these guidelines in place at healthcare providers worldwide, the hope is that breastfeeding rates will continue to improve along with the health of both mother and child.
During World Breastfeeding Week, whether you’re a nursing mother or simply a supporter of breastfeeding, think about what you can do to raise a little awareness and offer your support. So many mothers simply do not have the support they need to breastfeed comfortably, and a little awareness can go a long way towards making it easier not just for mothers, but for their babies as well. Happy World Breastfeeding Week!