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Mass in Motion Posted by:
Meghan Morse, Department of Public Health

Meghan is the new State Breastfeeding Coordinator for DPH.

It’s that time of the year again; World Breastfeeding Week! World Breastfeeding Week, observed August 1-7, serves to celebrate and raise awareness of breastfeeding. This year the theme is “Just 10 Steps!: The Baby- Friendly Way” in honor of the Baby- Friendly Hospital Initiative. This initiative, which includes the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”, began 20 years ago at the recommendation of the World Health Organization. So, what is this Baby-Friendly initiative and how does it help mothers overcome barriers to breastfeeding that they may experience in the hospital and in the first days of motherhood?

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are listed below, but experts say that even beginning with just one step in a birth hospital has shown improvement in breastfeeding success among new moms.

Here are the ten steps:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is regularly shared with all health care staff.

2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to this policy into action.

3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4. Help mothers begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice “rooming in”- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on cue.

9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Since the Ten Steps were introduced 20 years ago, breastfeeding rates have improved significantly. But, not all maternity facilities observe these steps. To all the Moms out there, did you experience any of these procedures in your birth hospital? Did it help? If your hospital was Baby-Friendly, would it have helped your breastfeeding relationship? If you could add an 11th step for successful breastfeeding in the hospital, what would it be? We would love to hear from you!

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