Thanks to Claire for the heads-up! World Breastfeeding Week just released their theme for 2010: "Breastfeeding Just 10 Steps! The Baby Friendly Way". I checked their website but only the calendar is available for download.
In Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services (a joint WHO/UNICEF statement published by the World Health Organization), ten steps are identified for succesful breastfeeding, which each facility providing maternity services and care, ideally should adopt. These 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 half an 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.
- Practise rooming-in - that is, 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.
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has seen it appropriate to revisit the ten steps issued by the WHO in 1989 due to reports of "lack of commitment, deteriorating hospital practices, and inadequate training of health workers to counsel mothers." Although more than 20,000 maternities, or about 28% of all maternities in the world, have fully implemented the Ten Steps and have been certified by the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), reduced BFHI programming worldwide, inadequate training, and weakened compliance with the Ten Steps in accredited maternities are contributing to stagnant or declining exclusive breastfeeding rates in many settings.
World Breastfeeding Week 2010 also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration that called for implementation of the Ten Steps in all maternity facilities. The Innocenti Delcaration was produced and adopted during the WHO/UNICEF policymakers' meeting on "Breastfeeding in the 1990s: a Global Initiative" held in Italy in 1990.
Among the objectives of this year's World Breastfeeding Week which I find particularly important would be: To ensure that health workers who care for mothers and babies are adequately trained to counsel and support them in optimal infant feeding. My recent experience with a Metro Manila hospital on breastfeeding wasn't too good.
Another objective which I think is also particularly important is "to inform people everywhere that protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding is a mother’s right, a child’s right, and a human right." We often take several weeks of childbirth preparation classes and spend an equal amount of (if not more) time shopping for baby's clothes, gear etc. However, reading or preparing for breastfeeding is relegated to a half day or even less.
For World Breastfeeding Week 2010, the WABA calls advocates to reassess and consider what needs to be done to revitalize and expand the Baby-Friendly Initiative. Some of the things they suggest that can be done would be:
- Help your friends, colleagues and community to find the path.
- Find out what the status of the Ten Steps and BFHI is in your country and advocate for changes in hospitals
- Create change at the national level. Advocate for changes in hospitals, maternities adn in the wider health care system - health centers, primary care and communities.
- Improve our world for mothers and children and for our future.
For World Breastfeeding Week 2009, we had a Breastfeeding Festival at my workplace and also started a Lactation Policy Program. However, the program has not yet been completed although a breastfeeding room has been estblished. This year, hopefully, we will finally be able to establish a permanent lactation program and execute it in time for Breastfeeding Week. I also hope that L.A.T.C.H. or Children for Breastfeeding or other breastfeeding organizations in the Philippines will be able to focus on hospitals and reestablish or reiterate the need to promote, support and protect breastfeeding especially to new moms!