Breastfeeding: Working to make it work

Ellen Piwoz, Senior Program Officer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Originally posted on Devex

The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 is “Let’s make it work!”—focusing on supporting working women that breastfeed. The reality is that all women work, whether in the home or in an office, factory, or field. The question then is: What do we need to do to make breastfeeding work for women and their children, no matter where they live or what they do?

An important first step is ensuring that women have the accurate information needed to make feeding choices for their children. Just last week, a National Institutes of Health study found that 20 percent of new moms in the United States did not receive any breastfeeding guidance from their doctors. The World Health Organization recommends initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth and breastfeeding exclusively — no water, nor anything else — for the first six months.

To read the full text, please visit: Breast-feeding: Working to make it work

Remembering Luann Martin: Promoting breastfeeding for 25 years


In memory of our friend, colleague, and long-time advocate for infant and young child feeding, Luann Martin, we are sharing a personal story that she wrote last year at this time. Luann recently passed away on July 14, 2015.

luann for webLuann and I met in 1994 in Washington, DC. We had both recently returned from living overseas and soon discovered we had much in common. From that time on, we worked together for the next 20 years. Most recently, I had the pleasure of working with her on Alive & Thrive, from the beginning in 2009 until December 2014 when she retired.

Luann cared deeply about improving the lives of women and children and her work touched the lives of millions of children and their families around the world.

In celebration of Luann’s legacy and in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, here is her story. We welcome you to share memories of Luann in the comments of this blog post.

Originally published during World Breastfeeding Week 2014.

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In Ethiopia, rapid improvements in child feeding behaviors are possible

Dr. Manisha tharaney, senior technical advisor, nutrition, ALIVE & THRIVE



Alive & Thrive recently released results from its first five years in Ethiopia, where infant and young child feeding programs reached an estimated two million mothers of children under two. As in Bangladesh and Viet Nam, we found that a comprehensive approach led to rapid improvements in feeding practices.

The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding—already at high levels—increased to more than 80 percent in program areas. We also saw promising gains in complementary feeding practices. More children started receiving appropriate complementary foods at around six months of age and the percentage of children eating a diverse diet, while still extremely low, doubled in just four years.

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An intriguing message: Where did it come from and why does it work?


I wasn’t joking when I told Mary Penny and Hilary Creed-Kanashiro that the Skype call we had recently fulfilled a fantasy for me. For some time, I’ve been fascinated with a study they and their Peruvian colleagues were part of about 10 years ago. And now I’d been granted my wish to ask my questions. Continue reading

Don’t forget about dad: Six strategies for getting fathers more involved in child feeding


Whether he’s aware of his influence or not, almost every father in every culture influences his family’s choices about how to feed the children. His everyday decisions about how many of the eggs the family’s chickens lay will be sold at market and how many will be kept at home for the family to eat can make the difference between a stunted child and one who reaches his or her full growth potential.

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Re-electing a U.S. president and promoting a health behavior: What do these have in common?


As the U.S. turns to President Obama’s inauguration, we at Alive & Thrive reflect on what re-electing a U.S. president and promoting a health behavior may have in common:

Being precise about which behavior you need to promote 

Obama’s door-to-door canvassing effort was clear in its behavioral objective. Rather than knocking all doors to persuade undecided voters to support Obama, volunteer canvassers were directed, through a carefully constructed database, to the homes of people who had already indicated they were pro-Obama. The behavioral objective was to make sure those likely Democrat voters would “go to the polls and vote.” Continue reading

For a media campaign that sticks: Go with the “pros”

Tina Sanghvisenior country director,ALIVE & THRIVE Bangladesh,FHI 360

With Alive & Thrive’s mandate to change infant and child feeding practices at scale in Bangladesh, a country of 150 million, mass media is a must. But in a thriving marketplace, we’re in fierce competition for our audience’s attention. Continue reading