All health workers who care for women and children during the postnatal period and beyond have a key role to play in establishing and sustaining breastfeeding. Many health workers cannot fulfil this role effectively because they have not been trained to do so. This updated training course is built upon the revised 2018 Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the latest version of the guidance for implementing the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in facilities providing maternity and newborn services. The materials in this training course complement existing courses and can be used as part of the pre-service education of health workers.
The first few hours and days of a newborn baby’s life are a critical window for establishing breastfeeding and for providing mothers/parents/caregivers with the support they need to breastfeed successfully. Since 1991, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) has motivated facilities providing maternity and newborn-baby services worldwide to better support breastfeeding. It has been adopted by many countries and organizations. The BFHI aims to provide a health-care environment that supports parents’ acquisition of skills necessary to exclusively breastfeed for six months, and to continue breastfeeding for two years or beyond.
Breastfeeding and appropriate, safe and timely complementary feeding are fundamental to the health and development of children, and important for the health of their mothers. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have long recognized the need for the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life and sustained breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.