Media centre

Press Releases



Feature Stories

Outlook Newsletter


Photo Essays

Toolkit for Journalists

Audio-Video links

Contact Information for Journalists


Breastfeeding: The 1st Hour

Breastfeeding Rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises that every child has the inherent right to life and aims to ensure their survival and development. Breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery helps ensure child survival. Women have a right to this knowledge and to receive the support that they need to initiate breastfeeding.

What everyone should know about breastfeeding*

1.        Breastmilk alone is the only food and drink an infant needs for the first six months. No other food or drink, not even water, is usually needed during this period.

2.        Newborn babies should be kept close to their mothers and begin breastfeed­ing within one hour of birth.

3.        Frequent breastfeeding causes more milk to be produced. Almost every mother can breastfeed successfully.

4.        Breastfeeding helps protect babies and young children against dangerous illnesses. It also creates a special bond between mother and child.

5.        Bottle-feeding can lead to illness and death. If a woman cannot breastfeed her infant, the baby should be fed breastmilk or a breastmilk substitute from an ordinary clean cup.

6.        From the age of six months, babies need a variety of additional foods, but breastfeeding should continue through the child’s second year and beyond.

7.        A woman employed away from her home can continue to breastfeed her child if she breastfeeds as often as possible when she is with the infant.

8.        Exclusive breastfeeding can give a woman more than 98 per cent protec­tion against pregnancy for six months after giving birth – but only if her men­strual periods have not resumed, if her baby breastfeeds frequently day and night, and if the baby is not given any other food or drinks, or a pacifier or dummy.

9.        There is a risk that a woman living with HIV may pass the virus on to her infant through breastfeeding. Women who are infected should be counseled by a trained health worker on the benefits and risks of all infant feeding options and supported in carrying out their in­fant feeding decision.

10.     All women have the right to an envi­ronment that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding, including the right to protection from commercial pressures to artificially feed their ba­bies. The International Code of Mar­keting of Breastmilk Substitutes aims to provide the necessary protection by prohibiting the promotion of all breast­milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.

Researchers in rural Ghana, where early initiation of breastfeeding was not the norm, found that babies who started to breastfed in the first hour of life were more likely to survive the neonatal period than those who did not.

·        Babies who did not start breastfeeding until after 24 hours of age were 2.5 times more likely to die than babies who started within the first hour of life, whether they were partially or exclusively breastfed.

·        30% of babies in the study were fed solids or other milk before one month of age .These infants were 4 times more likely to die than babies who were exclusively breastfed.

·        16% of newborn deaths could be prevented if newborns were breastfed exclusively from day one.

·        22% of newborn deaths could be prevented if newborns initiated breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

Researches done globally also indicate that:

·        36% of all child deaths are ‘neonatal.

·        Neonatal mortality could be reduced by 24% if 99% of infants initiated breastfeeding on day 1 of life and by 31% if 99% of initiation was within the first hour.

·        Potentially about 30% of newborn deaths (10% of under-five deaths) might be prevented with universal coverage of breastfeeding initiation within the 1st hour.



unite for children