World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Theme, Significance, Benefits Of Breastfeeding And More
World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Breastfeeding is the best gift from a mother to her child. You might not know, breastfeeding is also beneficial to the mother. Here's how.
World Breastfeeding Week is observed from 1 to 7 August
- Breastfeeding week is observed from 1st August to 7th August
- Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the mother and the baby
- Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility- is the 2021 theme
August 1st marks the commencement of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). More than 120 countries participate in this week-long annual event which aims to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding for the health and well-being of the mother-baby duo. The World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action (WABA) inaugurated the event in 1990 and had its first celebration in 1992. Since then, the WABA organizes WBW with WHO, UNICEF, and their partners to raise awareness about positive outcomes of breastfeeding for the mother, baby, and society.
The 2021 theme: Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility
Each year a specific theme and slogan are decided for the week (1st-7th Aug) that urge individuals, organizations, and governments to recognize the need for breastfeeding and support breastfeeding mothers in their journey. This year WBW's slogan is "Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility."
According to WHO, mothers should begin breastfeeding within an hour after childbirth and then exclusively breastfeed the baby for the first six months of life. Then, take up complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or as long as the mother and the baby desire. This process ensures the baby gets optimal nutrition for proper growth and development.
Yet, two out of three babies aren't breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months. It's a state that hasn't changed in the past two decades, which is why knowing and conveying the importance of breastfeeding across levels has become crucial.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the baby
Breast milk is an easy-to-digest, easy-to-absorb tailored food that has the right blend of several nutritional and immunological compounds, such as protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, antibodies, immune cells, hormones, beneficial bacteria, and oligosaccharides that:
- Offers optimum nourishment to support the baby's growth and development
- Boosts immunity by protecting the baby against infections and illnesses, which lowers infant mortality and morbidity
- Augments digestive health by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut
- Establishes healthy eating practices by letting the baby acquaint to different tastes and flavors via breast milk
- Builds trust between mother and baby that makes the baby feel safe and at ease
Besides all these, breast milk composition alters as per the baby's nutritional needs. It means if a baby is born premature, milk composition varies to meet their needs.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
Like it does for babies, breastfeeding benefits mothers as well.
- Speedy healing and recovery after childbirth
- Faster postpartum weight loss due to calorie burnout that happens during breast milk production
- Lower risk of certain cancers, such as ovarian and breast cancers
- Lowers the risk of bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis
- Lower risk of postpartum depression by promoting emotional satisfaction
Besides these, skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding helps both the mother and the baby.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience for the mother and the baby. For babies, breastfeeding is the source of nourishment that builds their immunity and promotes proper growth and development. And for the mothers, it's a way to bond with their babies and enjoy specific health benefits themselves. Since breastfeeding is mutually beneficial, it's imperative that societies support mothers to breastfeed at least for the first six months of an infant's life.
(Swati Patwal is a Clinical Nutritionist and Nutritionist Writer at MomJunction)
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