World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
Talk to me! Breastfeeding - a 3D Experience
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) announces the World Breastfeeding Week theme for 2011 focusing on engaging and mobilising youth intergenerational work with the catchy slogan of: ‘Talk to me! Breastfeeding - a 3D Experience’. The theme deals with communication at various levels and between various sectors.
When we look at breastfeeding support, we tend to see it in two-dimensions: time (from pre-pregnancy to weaning) and place (the home, community, health care system, etc). But neither has much impact without a third dimension - communication!
Communication is an essential part of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. We live in a world where individuals and global communities connect across small and great distances at an instant's notice. New lines of communication are being created every day, and we have the ability to use these information channels to broaden our horizons and spread breastfeeding information beyond our immediate time and place to activate important dialogue.
This third dimension includes cross-generation, cross-sector, cross-gender, and cross-culture communication and encourages the sharing of knowledge and experience, thus enabling wider outreach.
Each of us plays a variety of roles and has the most powerful tool needed – a voice to talk to others about why breastfeeding matters, not only for health and well-being, but also for the environment, for women’s rights, and for social advancement. Let’s enhance the perception and knowledge about breastfeeding, and bring the dialogue to life, making this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) celebration a true 3D experience: an opportunity for outreach, an investment in a healthy future, and ultimately, a unifying lens through which to see the world.
Breastfeeding – a biological function; a public health issue that has been revisited time and time again; a bond between a mother and child. Breastfeeding supports each of the Millennium Development Goals and has a large impact on the future well-being of our society:
Hunger and poverty: The first step towards reducing undernutrition of children is optimal exclusive breastfeeding, enabling them to grow well from the first days of life; and continued breastfeeding when complementary foods are introduced, to improve the quality of the mixed diet.
Gender equality: Children receive an equal start through breastfeeding regardless of family income. Breastfeeding also empowers women by enabling them to be in control of their reproductive lives and be self- sufficient in nourishing their infants (without spending money on breast milk substitutes).
Reduce child mortality: If all infants were placed immediately skin-to-skin, breastfed exclusively for six months and then up to two years or longer with age appropriate complementary feeding, under five mortality would be reduced 13-20% worldwide.
Maternal health: Mothers’ risk of postpartum haemorrhage is reduced by early initiation of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also protects against anaemia and maternal iron depletion due to lactational amenorrhoea, and reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and diabetes.
Promoting proper feeding for infants and young children
Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
Malnutrition is responsible, directly or indirectly for about one third of deaths among children under five. Well above two thirds of these deaths, often associated with inappropriate feeding practices, occur during the first year of life. Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are both crucial for life-long health and well-being. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.
The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.
Promoting sound feeding practices is one of the main programme areas that the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development focuses on. Activities include the production of sound, evidence-based technical information, development of guidelines and counselling courses, provision of guidance for the protection, promotion and support of infant and young child feeding at policy, health service and community levels, production of appropriate indicators and maintenance of a Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding.