Early initiation of breastfeeding (within the first hour) provides benefits for infant and mother.
Despite its benefits, many women delay initiation of breastfeeding. Approximately 53 percent of newborns in developing countries are put to the breast within one hour of birth. Establishing good breastfeeding practices in the first days is critical to the health of the infant and to breastfeeding success. Initiating breastfeeding is easiest and most successful when a mother is physically and psychologically prepared for birth and breastfeeding and when she is informed, supported, and confident of her ability to care for her newborn. The following actions can increase rates of early initiation of breastfeeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that an infant receives only breastmilk with no additional foods or liquids, not even water. The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding on child survival, growth, and development are well documented. Exclusive breastfeeding also provides health benefits for mothers.
Despite its many benefits, many women do not breastfeed exclusively. Trend data from a subset of 77 countries that between 1995 and 2011 show that exclusive breastfeeding only increased from 32 to 40 percent. Obstacles to exclusive breastfeeding can be overcome in the following ways: