Czech Republic to take part in International Breastfeeding Week

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The World Alliance for Breastfeeding (WABA) designates the first week in August, International Breastfeeding Week - to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. More than 70 countries, including the Czech Republic, take part in this initiative and this year, the aim is to make full use of mass communications to send the alliance's message to the Czech people. Television, radio, print media, the internet, videos, postcards, posters and billboards all over the country, will be used to promote the effectiveness and advantages of breastfeeding. While most Czech mothers apparently don't need to be convinced, the WABA says that pediatricians and Czech society still need more information on the benefits of breastfeeding. Dita Asiedu spoke to Dr. Magdalena Paulova, one of the country's leading advocates of breastfeeding, to find out how far the movement has come in the Czech Republic:

"It was UNICEF's Czech committee, which started the movement and then the pediatric and neurologic societies made use of the possibility to influence nutrition of newborn babies in the Czech Republic."

What was the situation like when the movement was begun?

"We started supporting breastfeeding in the 1990's and then recognised how to do it. There is an international movement but we would like to co-operate with Scandinavian countries as they are better than any other countries in Europe."

What are some of the problems faced today?

"How to support breastfeeding among pediatricians and among others. How to solve the problems that arise during the periods of exclusive breastfeeding, how to solve them naturally and not with the first solution being the use of artificial food."

Statistics show that a little over 90% of mothers breastfeed. Why do you think is it so popular in the Czech Republic?

"Before our mothers get pregnant, they already know that they want to breastfeed when they will have babies. We then support them during the pre-natal care courses - by explaining to them how they can make breastfeeding a positive and problem-free experience. We also support them in the maternity wards. From slightly more than 100 hospitals, 17 of them are baby-friendly hospitals."

What are baby-friendly hospitals? One suspects that all hospitals are, and should be, baby friendly.

"A real baby-friendly hospital, should fulfill special criteria. There are ten steps of breastfeeding that they should follow. To keep babies with their mothers, to help mothers with their breastfeeding, not to use pacifiers, not to use artificial feeding, not to use formulas, etc."

How does the Government or the Health Ministry support this?

"They supported it in a proclamation but now they see that we have done something and they are starting to help us."