by Lisa Fields
Each time that you breastfeed your baby, you’re partaking in a timeless tradition that mothers and children around the globe have shared for millennia.
And whether you know it or not, whenever you breastfeed your baby between August 1st and 7th, you’re helping to honor World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event that’s organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, which is observed by millions of people in more than 175 countries worldwide.
Ameda is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week this August, along with groups that have partnered with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action because they also value the importance of breastfeeding, such as La Leche League International, the International Lactation Consultation Association and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
A respectable history
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action held its first World Breastfeeding Week in 1992. Every year, the campaign encourages moms worldwide to breastfeed their babies. The campaign also strives to make it easier for women around the globe to begin breastfeeding and maintain the practice once it’s established.
The very first World Breastfeeding Week launched an initiative to encourage hospitals worldwide to be “baby-friendly,” which means that they should provide an environment that encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies from birth onward. Baby-friendly hospitals have staff members that patiently teach new moms how to breastfeed, cheering them on every step of the way. They encourage exclusive breastfeeding on demand, rather than offering baby formula by default. They allow moms and newborns to room together, because it facilitates breastfeeding whenever an infant is hungry. And they send new moms home with resources for locating lactation-related help, in case they have trouble mastering the basics of breastfeeding.
Today, hospitals in the U.S. are much more baby-friendly than they were in 1992, when World Breastfeeding Week brought this topic to the forefront of conversation. Every August, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action brings different topics to the public eye to encourage breastfeeding from many angles.
Educating moms worldwide
This year, World Breastfeeding Week is letting people know how breastfeeding prevents malnutrition, ensures food security and breaks the cycle of poverty worldwide.
If you’re nursing and pumping, you probably don’t have to worry about these issues. But countless babies worldwide live in less-than-ideal conditions. For them, breastfeeding can be a lifesaver.
Malnutrition leading to undernourishment is a problem for more 155 million children under the age of 5 worldwide. When a family lives in poverty, a mom can successfully nourish her baby with breast milk without spending any precious funds on baby formula. When food is scarce – especially during a crisis situation – breastfeeding can ensure greater food security for the entire family, because moms can create a steady supply of breast milk (except in the case of severe malnutrition, which is very rare) and any available resources can go toward feeding the rest of the family.
At the other end of the spectrum, malnutrition leading to overnourishment has resulted in 41 million children under the age of 5 worldwide being overweight. Fortunately, breastfeeding can help babies and children to better regulate their weight. Those who breastfeed are 10% less likely to be overweight or obese than those who consume baby formula.
Breastfeeding is good for everyone’s health
Babies who are breastfed receive an ideal food that’s tailor-made for them, complete with antibodies from their moms that can decrease their chances of getting sick. Breastfed children are less likely to get respiratory infections, ear infections, infectious diseases and severe diarrhea. Breast milk has also been shown to help to increase a child’s intelligence levels, compared to baby formula.
Breastfeeding also has a positive impact on moms. Women who nurse reduce their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Join the campaign
This year’s World Breastfeeding logo features two adults surrounding an infant who’s being cradled in position to breastfeed, to show that breastfeeding is a family commitment. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action encourages fathers to be involved to ensure breastfeeding success.
If you’re interested in showing your support of World Breastfeeding Week, tag your social media posts and photos with #WBW2018. There are several resources available online to help you spread the word about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Ameda strives to present you with accurate and useful breastfeeding information. This article may contain information and ideas that are not necessarily the views of Ameda. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have any questions please contact your healthcare professional.