“Empower Parents. Enable Breastfeeding."
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2019
Breastfeeding is a universal solution that levels the playing field, giving everyone a fair start in life. It improves the health, wellbeing and survival of women and children around the world.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until babies are around six months of age, with the introduction of appropriate complementary feeding (foods and drinks other than breastmilk) at this age, in addition to continued breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond, for as long as mother and child desire.
All health workers have a responsibility to encourage, support and promote breastfeeding according to these recommendations. However, health workers should acknowledge that any breastfeeding has benefits for both baby and mother.
Breastfeeding is a normal physiological process. However, for some it is a skill that mothers and babies need to practice and may need help with. Breastfeeding requires the encouragement and support of partners, families and health carers. Breastfeeding mothers returning to work also need support from their employers.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
For the baby
- Less illness: Babies who are fed breastmilk have a lower risk of:
- Gastrointestinal infections (e.g. diarrhoea and vomiting)
- Atopic disease (including eczema and asthma)
- Middle ear infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Respiratory infections
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes in childhood or later life
- Some childhood cancers
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfed babies are also less likely to be hospitalised for illnesses and infections.
- Growth and development: Breastmilk contains important components to protect and build the baby’s immature immune system which is more easily digested and suit each baby’s unique needs, making it the ideal food to promote healthy growth and development.
- Psychological benefits: The close interaction during breastfeeding can enhance bonding and emotional attachment between mother and baby.
For the mother
Research shows that breastfeeding has significant health benefits for mothers. Breastfeeding:
- Assists the uterus to return to its pre-pregnant state faster
- Can help women to lose weight after baby’s birth
- May reduce the risk of mothers with gestational diabetes developing type 2 diabetes
- Reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and pre-menopausal breast cancer
- May reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- For society
- Environmentally friendly
Economical: Breastmilk does not cost money, and the decreased risk of illness results in reduced hospital admissions and healthcare costs.
World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August all over the world to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The theme for 2019 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) has been announced – “Empower Parents. Enable Breastfeeding”. This year WHO focuses on implementing maternity and paternity leaves along with a parent-friendly work environment.
Policies suggested by WHO
- Paid maternity leave- The World Health Organisation will stress on enacting paid maternity leaves for a minimum of 18 weeks.
- Paid paternity leave- WHO also wants to encourage paid paternity leaves to encourage shared responsibility to take care of their child on an equal basis.
- Parent-friendly workplace- A parent-friendly workplace will help the mothers to breastfeed their children after returning back to work as well. It includes access to breastfeeding breaks and providing them a safe, private and hygienic space for expressing and storing breast milk. It will also focus on providing affordable childcare.