The State of the World's Children 1998: Focus on Nutrition

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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.

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 breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practise 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 addition, facilities should refuse to accept free and low-cost supplies of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.

- From Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: The special role of maternity services; A Joint WHO/UNICEF Statement (WHO, 1989) and 'The Global Criteria for the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative' (UNICEF, 1992)

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