World Breastfeeding Week is an annual commemoration dedicated to breastfeeding between August 1 and 7 every year. This year, the observances will commence on Sunday, Aug 1, 2021 and end on Saturday, August 7, 2021. It puts to action the resolutions undertaken at the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by the government, international health organizations, volunteer and other non-governmental organizations to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding”.
In this article, we will learn all about the importance of World Breastfeeding Week, breastfeeding in general and the need to normalize breastfeeding all over again.
World Breastfeeding Week
Breastfeeding is the safest, healthiest and cheapest way to provide nutrition to infants and babies. A baby starts nursing from their mother right after being born and lives exclusively on milk up until they are 6 months old. Ordinarily, once a child is 6 months old, s/he can be breastfed until 2 years of age while also being provided with supplementary nutrition.
The week was observed for the first time in 1992, after the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration (see below). As of today, the week is observed in 120 countries across the globe.
Why is Breastfeeding Week Important?
Aside from understanding the benefits of breastfeeding, there is an acute need to normalize it. There is some taboo and immaturity surrounding breastfeeding, especially in public places. Similarly, bottle-feeding has become so common that parents choose it for their infants over breastfeeding.
Hopefully, if we educate people on the importance of breastfeeding, the taboos, misconceptions and immaturity surrounding it will also progressively decrease.
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a world-wide organizational network including individuals and groups that are devoted to promoting, preserving and encouraging infants being breastfed all over the world. The WABA put forward the idea of World Breastfeeding Week that would be dedicated to raising awareness and bringing back breastfeeding into vogue.
Their work is well attuned with the guidelines of the Innocenti Declarations and the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. They also work in tandem with the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Innocenti Declaration was adopted on August 1, 1990 in Italy. This declaration advocates that women should freely be able to breastfeed their children and that similarly, infants should be exclusively breastfed till 6 months of age.
To provide impetus to the same, the Declaration also proposes the elimination of hurdles that get in the way of breastfeeding at home, work or other environments. Last but certainly not the least, the Declaration urges for nursing mothers be provided with adequate nutrition themselves so they may feed their children properly without risking their own health and safety in any way.
World Breastfeeding Week Theme 2021
Each year, the day is awarded a theme along the lines of which various projects and programs are undertaken. The World Breastfeeding Week Theme 2021 is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.
The WABA picked this theme for this year with the intention to call attention to the relationship between breastfeeding and the health of the human race at large. It is directly connected to the health of women, young mothers and children and therefore, by extension, all nations at large.
- World Breastfeeding Week Theme 2020 was ““Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet’.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the oldest and healthiest practice of providing nutrition to infants that got dissolved somewhere along the way. There are a number of health benefits associated with breastfeeding. The WHO advocates that new born children should be exclusively breastfed beginning from within the first hour of being born up until the baby is 6 months old. Breastfeeding has a number of health benefits associated with it both for the mother and the child.
- To begin with, this is how nature intended it. Therefore, this is the safest and healthiest way to feed the baby.
- It is the best way to provide infants with all the nutrition that they need.
- Children receive antibodies for their own immunity from the mother’s mature immune system through milk.
- Unlike breastmilk, bottles and breast pumps run the risk of being infected if not sterilized from time to time and being handled with care.
- Mothers that breastfeed lose pregnancy fat faster than those who don’t.
- Breastfeeding may reduce Postpartum blood loss.
- Reduces effects of postpartum depression.
- Reduces changes of anaemia and urinary tract infection in new mothers.
- Reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- Breastfed babies have lesser chances of suffering from diarrhoea, constipation and gastroenteritis preterm necrotising enterocolitis.
- They have a stronger respiratory, digestive and immunity systems thereby reducing chances of colds, allergies, obesity, pneumonia and other related illnesses.
- Reduces chances of infections and meningitis in newborn babies.
- Irrespective of the financial status of the mother and/or family, breastfeeding is always less expensive and more beneficial than formula feed for infants.
Breastfeeding Within the First Hour After Birth
While we’re on the subject, it would be wise to talk about the first nutrition that the child must receive, i.e., mother’s milk. It is imperative that the newborn be breastfed within 1 hour of being born. If not, the chances of these children meeting physical and mental growth standards is greatly reduced. While new-borns who are breastfed within an hour of birth are not only likely to survive but live better, healthier lives.
According to a report published by UNICEF in 2018, 3 in 5 children do not receive breast milk within the first hour of being born. After learning the importance of the “baby’s first vaccine”, the threats associated with not receiving the same need to be highlighted again.
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