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Updated On: Monday, 24 September 2018

New Breastfeeding Guidelines

Content by: South-South News

13 April 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF on April 11 issued new ten-step guidance to increase support for breastfeeding in health facilities that provide maternity and newborn services. Breastfeeding all babies for the first two years would save the lives of more than 820,000 children under age five annually.

Speaking to reporter in New York UNICEF’s Victor Aguayo, said, “We want to make of the protection of breastfeeding and the promotion of breastfeeding a universal practice that are not just limited to a few hospitals or a few maternities.”

On the importance of breastfeeding, Aguayo said that breastfeeding protects lives and also promotes healthy growth in children. He explained, “Children grow taller, children are less likely to be overweight and obese later in life. It promotes brain development.”

Aguayo also noted that breastfeeding protects women’s health, the health of the mothers’, adding that “breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of various cancers, breast cancer and obesity in women.”

Asked about the challenges that women face in breastfeeding in public space in some of the western countries, Aguayo said, “Women should be supported to breastfeed wherever they need to breastfeed and we should see that as a norm.”

He added, “We need to support women who choose to breastfeed to breastfeed where and when they need to breastfeed, be it in public place, be it in a private place, be it in the workplace as well. We also need to make our workplace breastfeeding friendly. We need to support women to combine working life with their breastfeeding practice.”

The new ten-step guidance describes practical steps 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.

It also describes how 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 breastmilk substitutes, rooming-in, responsive feeding, educating parents on the use of bottles and pacifiers, and support when mothers and babies are discharged from hospital.

According to UNICEF, breastfeeding is vital to a child’s lifelong health, and reduces costs for health facilities, families, and governments. Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth protects newborn babies from infections and saves lives. Infants are at greater risk of death due to diarrhea and other infections when they are only partially breastfed or not breastfed at all. Breastfeeding also improves IQ, school readiness and attendance, and is associated with higher income in adult life. It also reduces the risk of breast cancer in the mother.


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