WHO. World Health Organization/UNICEF. Breastfeeding counselling: A training course. Geneva. 1993.
Breastfeeding is fundamental for the health and development of children, and importantfor the health of their mothers.
The Programme for the Control of Diarrhoeal Diseases has long recognized the need forthe promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 4-6 months of life, and sustainedbreastfeeding together with adequate complementary foods up to 2 years of age orbeyond, to reduce diarrhoeal morbidity and mortality.
Workers concerned with nutrition, and with maternal and child health, also recognize theimportance of improved infant feeding practices. In 1991, UNICEF and WHO jointlylaunched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which aims to improve maternityservices so that they protect, promote, and support breastfeeding, by putting into practicethe “Ten steps to successful breastfeeding”. Many maternity facilities throughout theworld are now striving to achieve “Baby Friendly” status.
The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes has been in place formore than a decade, and much effort to protect breastfeeding from commercialinfluences has followed. One requirement for being “Baby Friendly” is that a facilityshall not accept or distribute free samples of infant formula.
However, even mothers who initiate breastfeeding satisfactorily, often startcomplementary feeds or stop breastfeeding within a few weeks after delivery. All healthworkers who care for women and children after the perinatal period have a key role toplay in sustaining breastfeeding. Many health workers can not fulfil this role effectivelybecause they have not been trained to do so. Little time is assigned to breastfeedingcounselling and support skills in the curricula of either doctors, nurses or midwives.
Hence there is an urgent need to train health workers who care for mothers and youngchildren, in all countries, in the skills needed to both support and protect breastfeeding.The purpose of “Breastfeeding counselling: A training course” is to help to fill this gap.The materials are designed to make it possible for trainers even with limited experienceof teaching the subject to conduct up-to-date and effective courses.
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