For health workers
Health workers play an essential role protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. It's important that all health workers are aware of: -
- Breastfeeding recommendations and Infant Feeding Guidelines
- Health worker responsibilities under the WHO Code
- Baby Friendly Health Initiative (Hospital and Community)
- Appropriate language for breastfeeding promotion
- Where to refer clients/patients for information and support
Infant Feeding Guidelines: Information for health workers
The Infant Feeding Guidelines are designed to provide information to assist in decision making and are based on best available evidence. They cover encouraging, supporting and promoting breastfeeding in the Australian community. Infant Feeding Guidelines also provide information on initiating, establishing and maintaining breastfeeding and the management of common problems.
Understand your responsibilities under the WHO Code
Most of the marketing of breast milk substitutes targets the health care system and health care workers. Association with the health care system is a powerful way for formula companies to seek implied endorsement.
Health workers and health facilities should not be used for the promotion of breast milk substitutes, which undermine and discourage breastfeeding.
With about 1/3 of the WHO Code aimed directly at health workers, it is important that health workers have an understanding of the Code and how it affects their work.
What the WHO Code and resolutions mean for health workers:
- Health workers have the responsibility to encourage and protect breastfeeding.
- Health workers may only receive information containing scientific and factual matters from manufacturers and distributors of breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.
- In order to prevent conflicts of interest, health workers may not receive financial or material inducements from manufacturers and distributors.
- Health workers may only receive free samples when they are necessary for professional evaluation or for research at the institutional level. In no case should these samples be passed on to mothers.
- Health workers in both public and private sectors have the same responsibilities under Article 3 of the Code.
What the Code and resolutions mean for health facilities:
- Health facilities may not promote any product covered by the scope of the Code. This includes the display of products, placards and posters concerning such products and distribution of materials provided by manufacturers and distributors.
- Formula feeding should be demonstrated only to mothers or family members who need to use it; information given should include a clear explanation of risks of formula feeding and hazards of improper use.
- Donated equipment and materials should not refer to any brand names.
- Health facilities may not accept supplies of products under the scope for free or at low cost (less than 80% of the retail price).
- No programmes related to infant and young child nutrition may be sponsored by manufacturers or distributors of breastmilk substitutes as this will lead to conflicts of interest.
Acknowledgment - International Code Documentation Centre, 2009. Code Essentials 3: Responsibilities of Health Workers under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent WHA resolutions.
Baby Friendly Health Initiative
The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) has had a positive influence on breastfeeding. BFHI aims to eliminate health system practices that interfere with breastfeeding.
Baby Friendly hospitals provide consistent care and support for mothers to make informed decisions about breastfeeding. 100% of Tasmanian Hospitals are accredited as Baby Friendly.
Baby Friendly community facilities provide mothers with consistent infant feeding information and support from pregnancy through to their baby's early years.
Know where to refer for support
Health workers should know where to refer women for information, advice and support for breastfeeding.
Child Health Nurse
In Tasmania, the Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS) provide:
- Child health, growth and development assessments
- Parent information and support
- Early intervention services
Lactation consultants are health professionals who provide breastfeeding support and education. Find a local Lactation Consultant by:
- Looking up Lactation Consultant in a phone directory
- Visiting the Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand website
Local support groups
The Australian Breastfeeding Association coordinates local support groups across Australia. Tasmania has many active local groups offering mother-to-mother support. To find out about local support groups visit theAustralian Breastfeeding Association website
Breastfed babies have 15% fewer GP consultations during their first 6 months of life than babies fed artificially
Are you a mother needing help?
Click here to visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association website for information and support