Indicator 6 of the WBTi provides a score for Mother Support and Community Outreach – Community- based support for the pregnant and breastfeeding mother. It asks if there are systems in place to protect, promote and support optimal infant and young child feeding through evidence-based public health policies, health providers and particularly the support of other mothers.
Community-based mother-to-mother support has been found to be useful in all settings to ensure exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. As found in a 2017 Cochrane Review of 73 studies with data from 74,656 mother-infant pairs concluded that “when breastfeeding support is offered to women, the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding is increased.”
In WBTi terms, community-based support is defined as:
- Providing accurate and timely information to help a mother build confidence;
- Providing sound evidence-based recommendations;
- Providing compassionate care before, during and after childbirth;
- Practicing empathy and active listening;
- And providing practical guidance.
The level of community outreach and support is measured through five key questions:
- Do all pregnant women have access to community-based antenatal and postnatal support systems with counselling services on infant and young child feeding?
- Do all women receive support for infant and young child feeding at birth for breastfeeding initiation?
- Do all women have access to counselling support for infant and young child feeding counselling with support services having national coverage?
- Are community-based counselling services for pregnant and breastfeeding women integrated into an overall infant and young child health and development policy?
- Are community-based volunteers and health workers trained in counselling skills for infant and young child feeding?
How well does Australia provide peer support for breastfeeding mothers? Keep checking here to find out. Or you can also follow our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/wbtiaus/
Mary is a women’s rights advocate, community organiser and a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. She’s based in the Northern Territory with her partner and young son.
Featured image found https://goo.gl/CqHPCQ
Mother-Baby image credit – Nicole Horacek, Qld