This year's World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme, 'BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: CLOSE TO MOTHERS', highlights Breastfeeding Peer Counseling. Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, all too often in the weeks or months after delivery there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates, and practices, particularly exclusive breastfeeding.
The period when mothers do not visit a healthcare facility is the time when a community support system for mothers is essential. Continued support to sustain breastfeeding can be provided in a variety of ways. Traditionally, support is provided by the family. As societies change, however, in particular with urbanization, support for mothers from a wider circle is needed, whether it is provided by trained health workers, lactation consultants, community leaders, or from friends who are also mothers, and/or from fathers/partners.
The Peer Counseling Program is a cost effective and highly productive way to reach a larger number of mothers more frequently. Peer Counselors can be anyone from the community who is trained to learn to support mothers. Trained Peer Counselors, readily available in the community become the lifeline for mothers with breastfeeding questions and issues. "The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for the breastfeeding mother within her home and community."