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Cross-Cultural Health Perspectives Essay

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Breastfeeding practices around the world are vastly different. There are countries who are active promoters of breastfeeding and others who seem to take the care less attitude. The diverse approaches to breastfeeding found between and within societies are largely based on cultural rather than individual differences.

For the purposes of this paper, comparisons between Iran and Australia concerning the act of breastfeeding will be looked at along with ideas of how to improve the initiation and duration rates and a discussion of the benefits of increasing initial breastfeeding and continuing to do so for the health benefit of the child and mother. Presently, in Iran, breastfeeding is viewed as an openly society norm and it all stems from a religious background in a country that believes in the total care of an infant and who is willing to provide the most optimal care possible.

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It is interesting, that 100 percent of the hospitals in Iran are in complete agreement and following the “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)” as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Mothers are given free opportunities to attend antenatal classes and a lot of time and attention is placed on the initial bonding time as well as the 24 hour rooming in the hospital. Iran has also taken the initiative to standardize their health education that is provided from medical staff to any literature and training that is provided to the mother and family.

Specifically, mothers are educated on the adverse effects of man-made formulas and supplies that are not beneficial to the children, which include the negative long term effects of using such products. Home and follow-up care is also provided free of charge up to two years of age where the health professionals reinforce continuous breastfeeding, which greatly encourages the mothers to keep going. Working mothers are granted four months of paid leave that is increasing to six months in the near future. (Zaeeai, Obrien, & Fallon, 2007).

Australia in contrast, maintains inconsistencies in regards to breastfeeding. It is a country that has chosen not to adopt the World Health Organization program of the BFHI and therefore has an incredibly low rate of 4. 5 percent of the women who breastfeed. Fascinatingly, it is not the norm in Australia to be open about breastfeeding or to even start and continue for the recommended two year length. The health professional opinions of breastfeeding are also inconsistent and are much different than Iran’s.

They take the stance that breastfeeding provides no more benefit than using artificial means of feeding a child. With the professionals unconvincing attitude it is no wonder that the country does not provide accessible and affordable antenatal classes to their mothers. During the hospital stay, alternative means of feeding the baby are presented to the mother in addition to the non encouragement of rooming-in after delivery and the avoidance of skin-to-skin contact with their babies.

For the working mother, only 23 percent of the mothers are granted maternity leave which on average is a total of eight weeks. (Zaeeai, Obrien, & Fallon, 2007). Improving the breast feeding initiation and duration rates for Iran, although they are very good, could be accomplished by increasing the positive feedback to the mothers each time they are seen to encourage them to keep it up the great work and remind them of the benefits they are providing their children and themselves.

They could also be improved by increasing the media advertisements in communities such as billboards and educating high school and college students about the critical information. (Zaeeai, Obrien, & Fallon, 2007). Initiation and duration rates for Australia could be improved by not taking the baby out of the room when the mother wants to rest in the hospital. Instead of encouraging the mother, adopt a hospital policy that all babies will room-in with the mother immediately after birth, because the 60 – 90 minutes after are the most critical to establishing the bond.

Also, not having the alternative formulas available for the mother’s when they ask for it. (Murphy & Mullaly, 2009). It is a total mind modification that must take place within the medical community as well as in the country to make the change for the better to breastfeed babies. (Zaeeai, Obrien, & Fallon, 2007). Developing a BFHI program in Australia would involve an entire country shift of thinking about breastfeeding. It would be a massive educational campaign with statistics, articles and advertisements.

Providing consistent antenatal classes that are available to everyone at a minimal or no cost to the mothers along with follow-up care that is included for up to two years. It is important for Australia and clinicians to get on board with breastfeeding. The adverse effects must be talked about and collectively the country as medical professionals must come together and agree that the benefits of the man-made formulas are not even close to the long term benefits of a mother’s milk. (Zaeeai, Obrien, & Fallon, 2007).

Australia, Iran and the rest of the world can and are making a difference in a little one’s life. It is just a matter of taking on the responsibilities and educating the public on the benefits of breastfeeding and following through. Which in-turn increases the overall initiation and duration rates that make our world a better place to live and work for all and especially our babies! References Breastfeeding answers from La Leche League. (Feb, 2007). La Leche League International. Retrieved March 27, 2010 from http://www. llli. org/nb. html. Murphy, S. , & Mullally, A..

(October, 2009). Breastfeeding lacks medical support. Irish Medical Times, 43(40), 10. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. First-of-Its-Kind Program Aims to Reduce Primary Barrier to Breastfeeding for Hourly and Lower-Wage Working Mothers. (February, 2009). U. S. Newswire. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from ProQuest Newsstand. Zaeeai, M. , Obrien, M. L. , & Fallon, A. B. (2007). Creating a breastfeeding culture: A comparison of breastfeeding practises in Australia and Iran. Breastfeeding Review, 15(2), 15-24. Retrieved on March 27, 2010.

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