Supporting and promoting breastfeeding: How we’re doing this

At Nestlé, we aim to help people in Central and West Africa and worldwide adopt healthy and balanced lifestyles and diets.

For newborns and infants we firmly believe that breast milk is best. This is why we support and promote the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of nutritious and appropriate complementary foods, along with sustained breastfeeding, up to two years of age and beyond. When breastfeeding is not possible, infant formula – the only breast milk substitute recognised by the WHO – plays a vital role in providing essential nutrients to infants.

In Central and West Africa, we aim to endorse and encourage breastfeeding in the first 1,000 days of life, support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, and provide education programmes for good nutrition and feeding practices. 

We believe education plays a key part in achieving this, and we look to share our expertise, knowledge and engage with those who are most involved in implementing good practices, such as parents, healthcare professionals and caregivers. Here is how we’re doing this in the region.

1) Supporting and promoting breastfeeding

During this year’s World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7, we’re helping mothers across Central and West Africa to breastfeed through the Nestlé Start Healthy Stay Healthy Superbabies initiative. We’re encouraging everybody – from fathers to grandparents, and friends to bosses – to help breastfeeding mothers by launching a fun Superbabies music video on Facebook and YouTube, together with Facebook posts using the hashtags #HelpMomsBreastfeed and #SupportAfricasFuture. At all our sites across the region, we’re promoting the Superbabies video, dedicated song and banners to employees; while encouraging them to like and share our posts on Facebook and write their pledges on an internal ‘pledge wall’ microsite. We’re also inviting healthcare professionals to attend some of our events during the week.

We’re actively encouraging and supporting new mothers in balancing breastfeeding and work. In 2015, we launched the ‘Nestlé CWAR Parental Policy’ for all our employees in the region. Based on the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention and the global Nestlé Maternity Protection Policy, it has set out minimum standards that must be introduced across all Nestlé sites in the region by the end of 2016, and applies to all primary caregivers of newborns including fathers and adoptive parents. The policy includes 14 weeks paid maternity leave with the right to extend maternity leave by up to six months, flexible working arrangements and a conducive work environment to breastfeed. We currently have four breastfeeding rooms available at our sites for breastfeeding mothers.

In 2015, we worked with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone to create breastfeeding booklets for mothers in the country, which were distributed by healthcare professionals. Breastfeeding leaflets were also developed together with the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organization CamLink in Cameroon.

2) Providing education programmes for good nutrition and feeding practices

Each year, we bring together paediatricians from all over the region to the CWAR Advanced Nutrition Workshop (CANUP) to share resources and research based on scientific data, and provide training on maternal and child nutrition. This is led by the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA), which is part of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, the world’s largest publisher of nutritional information.

Since 2010, we’ve partnered with the Ministry of Health in Cameroon to improve maternal and infant nutrition by organising medical education sessions for healthcare professionals on breastfeeding.