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Some Ideas for the Role of General Practitioners in Protecting Breastfeeding

GPs are the first contacts for all patients…. are family confidantes…relied upon for every little problem (medical and non-medical)…their influence on patients and thus society is very strong.

This influence can be put to many positive uses…one of which is promotion and protection of breastfeeding.

GPs have a responsibility to the society just as all other health professionals…must be exercised to not only treat, but also prevent illness.

Breastfeeding can prevent mortality in 1.5 million infants world wide every year by preventing diarrheal deaths, and those due to respiratory infections. It prevents malnutrition in infants especially in third world countries and poor households where nutritious food supplements are scarce.

What can GPs do?
a) Learn about benefits of breastfeeding, through books, seminars and lactation management courses.
b) Commit themselves to talking with all expectant and new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, however briefly.
c) Encourage their patients to deliver in baby friendly hospitals.

d) Keep booklets on breastfeeding published by acash in all four languages and distribute them freely among mothers…each booklet costs only Rs. 5/-

e) Discourage the use of bottles in households by outlining the harms of bottle-feeding like diarrhea, otitis media, respiratory infections, malnutrition, risk of allergies etc.

f) Give tips to working mothers on continuing breastfeeding such as extension of maternity leave, expression of breastmilk for the baby, use of complementary foods instead of bottle feeding from 4 months of age, keeping the baby in a crèche close to workplace wherever available. Make mothers aware of their rights to maternity leave and breastfeeding breaks.

g) Discourage mothers from using expensive milk formula for infant feeding…it can cost poor households nearly 50% of their income. After 6 months animal milk can be safely fed with a spoon in addition to complementary foods.

h) Display breastfeeding posters, and charts that give key messages on breastfeeding in bold print, in their clinics.

i) Refer women with breastfeeding problems (that they may sometimes be unable to handle) to mother support leaders, or pediatricians.

j) Treat breastfeeding as an important subject and give as much importance to a mother with breastfeeding problems as they would give to an ill patient.


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Disclaimer: All material provided at is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor regarding the advisability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your individual situation.