Following today’s Global Breastfeeding Collective webinar on Achieving Health Equity: Providing Skilled Breastfeeding Support Universally, we are focusing today’s World Breastfeeding Week action on the importance of access to skilled lactation care.
As a part of World Breastfeeding Week, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has identified six action areas for creating change. We will share one with you for the next six days.
Day four action area: Breastfeeding counselling is essential
Breastfeeding counselling is essential for increasing breastfeeding rates. According to the World Health Organization, all counselling can be considered support but not all support interventions involve counselling. Counselling is a process and interaction between counsellors and women/parents and is therefore not intended to be a ‘top-down’ intervention of ‘telling them what to do’. The aim of breastfeeding counselling is to empower women and other lactating parents to breastfeed or chestfeed, while respecting their personal situations and wishes. It may be offered by credentialed professionals, including International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), lay/peer counsellors, or a combination of both. Breastfeeding counselling includes listening, empathising, building confidence, giving information and suggestions and letting women/parents decide what is best for them. It also includes giving practical help and demonstrating how to position and attach a baby at the breast and manage common problems. When breastfeeding challenges are more complex, such as sick or small newborns, a provider with clinical experience, such as an IBCLC, can provide much needed support.
What you can do*
- Advocate for all women/parents with young children to have access to skilled breastfeeding counselling from health facilities and communities.
- Implement the revised BFHI 2018 guidelines in all health facilities including private hospitals.
- Allocate resources for community groups to be able to provide basic breastfeeding counselling and other forms of support close to women/parents.
* How you can support these efforts depends on your role in the breastfeeding and chestfeeding community. If you are a policy maker, please consider these priorities. If you are not, please call on your local, regional, and national leaders to take action. Or consider becoming a policy leader yourself, by getting involved with your breastfeeding coalition, public health agency, or an elected office – we need your leadership at the highest possible level!
The 2020 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet. This year’s theme celebrates the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and WABA in observing WBW 1-7 August 2020.