World Breastfeeding Week is a wonderful way to highlight the importance of breastfeeding. Read on to learn all about this worldwide celebration celebrating mother and baby.
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way to strengthen the bond between a mother and a child. It also offers perfect nutrition for a growing baby, helping prevent both malnutrition and obesity later in life. The World Health Organization even recommends breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Even in these days of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, studies by the WHO indicate that breastfeeding still benefits the baby, even if the mother has COVID. So it's the perfect pandemic-proof nutrition for babies.
Despite these benefits, studies show that only 37% of infants under six months in developing countries are exclusively breastfed, so there's a big gap between the recommendation and reality. While breastfeeding isn't always possible for many, and formula can also provide good nutrition for babies, there's still a big gap between the WHO's recommendation and reality.
So for nearly thirty years, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) has been engaging members of different communities to promote the benefits of breastfeeding around the world.
World Breastfeeding Week is a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanize action on themes related to breastfeeding. This year, the 40th anniversary of the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS), the theme is "Protecting Breastfeeding Against Aggressive BMS Marketing." Nursing mothers can provide their infants with all the nutrients they need. So much of the time, they don't need formula to supplement the baby's nutrition. Aggressive marketing of BMS can often confuse new mothers.
The first World Breastfeeding Week began in 1992 following UNICEF's Innocenti Declaration of 1990, which formally recognized the importance of breastfeeding for children's health worldwide. The declaration also led to the formation of the World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 1991. Today, WABA and its members continue to sponsor this week, beginning August 1 and continuing through August 7, 2021.
This year's campaigns might look a little different, as people continue to work around the challenges of coronavirus. But the need for more education and awareness remains as important as ever.
In addition to this week, WABA has encouraged additional campaigns that also promote healthy breastfeeding. The USBC (United States Breastfeeding Council) recognizes the entire month of August as National Breastfeeding Month in the United States.
There's also a celebration of Black Breastfeeding Week, which takes place on August 25-31, 2021, and encourages black mothers in the United States to breastfeed. This year's Black Breastfeeding Week theme for 2021 is "Revive! Restore! Reclaim!"
Even if you're not able to attend a WBW event in person, there are still several ways to promote breastfeeding in your community. You can educate yourself on its importance or donate money or resources to organizations that encourage breastfeeding.
On a smaller scale, you can simply encourage mothers you know. They're doing their best to care for their babies, and having a small child is no easy task. Especially during these difficult times, offering your love and support to those who need it might be the best thing you can do to support the cause.