AT A time when the average of early initiation of breastfeeding stands at 42.6 per cent nationwide, according to data from the National Family Health Survey 4, a Mumbai hospital has significantly managed to increase the breastfeeding practice rate from 17 per cent to 70.6 per cent in two months.
Doctors said focused counselling and training pregnant women on the importance of breastfeeding contributed to the increase in rate.
The Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital, between June and July, saw 39 of 56 newborns being fed mother’s milk within an hour of birth. Breastfeeding within the “golden hour” acts as a natural immunity booster for a newborn, apart from improved tissue repair and better growth. The first breast milk after delivery, called colostrum, is rich in Vitamin D and boosts calcium absorption and bone strength.
The programme, titled ‘Baby friendly hospital initiative’ on lines of World Health Organisation (WHO), focuses on counselling and training pregnant women on the importance of breastfeeding.
“We conducted an audit of our birthing unit to understand constraints, bottlenecks and current beliefs or practices. The audit report findings suggested a need for counselling and training for expectant mothers during the antenatal period,” said Dr Ashwini Jogade, medical superintendent at the hospital.
Starting June, doctors prepared pregnant women physically and mentally to breastfeed their newborn within an hour of delivery.
Hospital data shows from January to May, before the programme began, breastfeeding rate within an hour of birth stood at 17 per cent, among 145 babies born. Since June, 56 deliveries were recorded, of which 39 babies were fed mother’s milk within 60 to 90 minutes of delivery.
In cases where a Caesarean was required, mothers were given local anaesthesia instead of general anaesthesia to ensure that they were conscious soon after delivery.
Lactation counsellor Dr Jui Shinde-Patil said mothers were discouraged from using baby food or formula milk for first the six months.
“A few of our patients had twins and after counselling, despite the practical difficulties, continued to breastfeed them exclusively for six months,” she said.