A recent study revealed that 48.1% of UAE babies aged 3-6 months are fed formula. This alarming statistic reaffirmed the need for breastfeeding promotion in all institutions that interact with pregnant and nursing women. An established campaign that focuses on publicizing the benefits of breastfeeding has implemented new strategies to gain community involvement by encouraging facilities to become Baby-Friendly, a designation promoted by the World Health Organization and UNICEF which sets standards that empower women to breastfeed. The Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Campaign, which was initiated under the generous patronage of Her Highness Sheika Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qassimi, has four primary initiatives: Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries, Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places, Mother-Friendly Workplaces and Baby-Friendly Health Facilities. They recently held an educational seminar on “Baby Friendly Health Facilities”, attended by several healthcare representatives and prominent breastfeeding specialists. Their participation was crucial to the campaign because hospital staff are most trusted by women as credible authority figures, and are seen as sources of reliable information. All participants agreed on their vital role of increasing breastfeeding awareness and education to families. They also all expressed willingness to adopt the ten steps to becoming Baby-Friendly. Insh’Allah, the campaign’s strategies are effective in improving breastfeeding rates in the UAE and more of our Muslim brothers and sisters can benefit from the Barakah of Breastfeeding. If you are pregnant and will be delivering at a hospital, make sure that it is Baby-Friendly certified. Become familiar with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding which must be practiced by the facility. Here are the guidelines for the United States:
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
Every facility providing maternity services and care for newborn infants should:
- 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.
- Practice 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.