The Problem: Breastfeeding support often ends at the health facility. At discharge, many mothers, families, and babies are not connected with community breastfeeding networks, such as breastfeeding support groups and peer counselors, leaving them with little sustained support.
The Solution: Strengthening linkages between the facility and community and incorporating breastfeeding counselling and support into community-level initiatives can increase rates of breastfeeding.
Strengthening two-way dialogue, referrals, and support between the health facility and community can aid to support exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for at least two years, especially in the initial days and months following childbirth. Working with existing community networks that provide breastfeeding support is crucial to ensure mothers can successfully sustain breastfeeding beyond the first few weeks of life.
Breastfeeding education and promotion must be incorporated into trainings for community health workers (CHWs). Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups is necessary for building capacity at the community level and breastfeeding support should be integrated within existing community structures as described in UNICEF’s First Hour of Life report. Resources for planning and implementing training for CHWs and others can also be found in the Skilled Breastfeeding Counseling section of this toolkit.