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World Breastfeeding Week Celebrating the Power of the First Hour

Candace Barton Hill
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 3, May-June 2007, p. 137

The theme for the 2007 World Breastfeeding Week Celebration is The Power of One. This refers to the powerful ripple effect that one simple action can have.

The first hour after childbirth is magical. The mother's hormones continue to race, helping her to deliver the placenta and keeping her energized as she holds her newborn in her arms. The baby is awake, with wide opened eyes, taking in the brand new world and the loving people in it. The contractions during birth have kept the baby stimulated and interested. Now is absolutely the best time to offer the baby the breast.

All the baby needs is just one mouthful of mother's first milk, the nutrition rich colostrum. As this first swallow moves through the baby, it begins to prepare the gut flora within to receive human milk, and helps to move the meconium out of the baby's bowels.

That first latch-on stimulates milk production in the mother and signals her body to begin to prepare the milk that will be the complete nutrition for the baby's next six months of life.

Too often, too many things get in the way of the mother and the baby during the first hour after birth. An epidural can interfere with breastfeeding and pregnant mothers need to be told that they have a choice that could make a difference between breastfeeding success and struggle.

The whole birthing team: doctors, nurses, lactation specialists, fathers, relatives, and hospital staff need to know and understand that the magical first hour of a baby's life is the time to focus on the connection between the mother and baby that breastfeeding provides.

The power of one hour, that is, initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth, would save millions of lives in the developing world. In the developed world it could keep millions of babies at the breast for weeks and months or longer. That one hour could make all the difference.

For more information on the theme and events for World Breastfeeding Week Celebrations in the USA, see

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