Europe is the worst region in the world for giving encouragement to new mothers to breastfeed, and where the influence of bottlefeeding has been strongest and most long lasting, according to UNICEF and WHO (The Lancet, 13 February 1993).
The two organizations have set up a baby friendly hospital initiative to promote breastfeeding. Participating hospitals adopt the following basic principles:
A written breastfeeding policy.
All staff should be trained.
All women should be told about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Mother and baby should have undisturbed skin to skin contact immediately after birth and start breastfeeding at their own pace.
Health workers should know how to assist in starting breastfeeding and how to maintain lactation during temporary separation.
Newborns should have breast milk only on demand and should not have any teat or pacifier when in hospital.
Babies should remain with their mothers 24 hours a day.
Mother to mother support groups should be incorporated into the health care system.
Hospitals will not provide free or low cost infant formula.
Some 767 hospitals worldwide have adopted the baby friendly approach or are working towards it.