Initiation of Breastfeeding by Breast Crawl
Initiation of Breastfeeding by Breast Crawl

Every newborn, when placed on the mother's abdomen, soon after birth, has the ability to find her mother's breast all on her own and to decide when to take the first breastfeed.

This is a mother and baby friendly document. Hence it starts with ' Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding' which also form the basis of 'Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative'. This document aims at strengthening 'Step 4' by focussing on nature's miraculous way of initiating breastfeeding by a phenomenon called 'Breast Crawl' i.e.

"Every newborn, when placed on the mother's abdomen soon after birth, has the ability to find her mother's breast all on her own and to decide when to take the first breastfeed."

This method is evidence based and has been field tested by us. A documentary on the 'Breast Crawl' has been prepared for training, advocacy and for wider dissemination. The video has created a very high level of sensitivity among all the levels of functionaries and was officially endorsed by senior policy makers as the right approach for initiating breastfeeding. This dossier provides the background and a scientific overview to the documentary.

Initiation of breastfeeding by the Breast Crawl is a critical component of the IYCF (Infant and Young Child Feeding) initiative for the state of Maharashtra, India. IYCF deals with nutrition of children from birth to 3 years of age, and also takes into consideration the nutrition of pregnant and lactating mothers. Two critical components of IYCF are breastfeeding and complementary feeding. Improved IYCF practices promote optimal growth and development, prevent malnutrition and improve child survival. With 40% of the children in the state undernourished, this initiative becomes extremely critical.

UNICEF has facilitated partnerships with all stakeholders including the State Government, State Nutrition Mission, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Public Health Department, BPNI (Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India), NGOs, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and several academic institutions, for this major initiative. These partnerships are aimed at creating a revolution in the state promoting IYCF practices.

Maharashtra is a state privileged to have IYCF specialists trained by experts such as Dr. Felicity Savage, Ms. Helen Armstrong, Dr. R. K. Anand, Dr. N. B. Kumta, Dr. G. S. Hathi and Dr. Armida Fernandez. The breastfeeding initiative in the state acquired momentum through the concerted efforts of these leaders. They have created a second line of advocates and trainers who are now aggressively promoting IYCF through Maharashtra State Branch of BPNI.

We are sure that this documentary and dossier will greatly help similar initiatives worldwide. It is our strong desire that this information helps every mother and baby to experience the miracle of Breast Crawl. If we all could achieve early initiation of breastfeeding, we will be able to prevent 22% of all deaths among babies below 1 month.

This can be achieved by training all health care providers to initiate breastfeeding, by Breast Crawl, to give infants the best start in life.

  21 February, 2016

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