Celebrating breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week (1st to 7th August 2021) focuses on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all, and the imperative to protect breastfeeding worldwide.

A public health approach to breastfeeding is a vital part of protecting and supporting breastfeeding – through collaboration to create a multi-sectorial breastfeeding-friendly environment. Sub-optimal breastfeeding practices are a public health issue requiring effort and investment by society.

Global breastfeeding rates remain low with only 43 percent of newborns initiating breastfeeding within one hour of birth and 41 percent of infants under six months of age exclusively breastfed. Approximately 70 percent of women continue to breastfeed for at least one year, but breastfeeding rates decline to 45 percent at two years of age.

Breastfeeding is an important element in global health

The world’s leaders committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. These goals are aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity. Breastfeeding is linked in several ways to all these goals, including:

  • Being a natural and low-cost way of feeding babies and children;
  • Providing high quality nutrients and adequate energy and can help prevent hunger, undernutrition and obesity;
  • Providing all the water a baby needs, even in hot weather. Formula feeding requires access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation;
  • Safeguarding infant health and nutrition in times of adversity or emergencies such as pandemics and weather-related disasters;
  • Support by society of mothers and parents to breastfeed optimally, and to be in control of how they feed their baby – to give every child a fair and best start in life; and
  • Supporting breastfeeding mothers who work outside the home to manage challenges, such as having crèches near the workplace, lactation rooms and breastfeeding breaks.

Breastfeeding is a climate-smart solution that contributes positively towards planetary health as it is sustainable, ecological and good for human health.

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby

Breast milk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging or waste. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby because:

  • it’s all that your baby needs to eat and drink for about the first 6 months;
  • it helps to protect your baby against colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies; and
  • it helps your baby to feel safe and secure.

Breast milk is especially important for premature and critically ill babies. The Christchurch Human Milk Bank helps mothers who are unable to provide their babies with enough milk due to maternal illness, medication or low milk supply.

Breastfeeding is perfect for mothers too

Breastfeeding is perfect for you too because:

  • it gives you a chance to rest while you are feeding your baby,
  • it helps you to feel close to your baby,
  • it saves you time,
  • it’s free, and
  • it may reduce your risk of some cancers and bone disease.

Direct breastfeeding and expression of breastmilk are efficient in terms of reducing waste and saving energy and other resources. Using a breast pump to express milk is better for the environment compared with breast milk substitutes (BMS) even with the additional reusable equipment.

All women and parents can benefit from many different kinds of breastfeeding support – from their families, communities, health systems and workplaces. Breastfeeding counselling provided by health workers aims to empower women and parents to breastfeed, while respecting their personal situations and wishes. It includes listening, empathising, building confidence, giving practical information and suggestions and letting women or parents decide what is best for them.

Source: World Breastfeeding Week website.

Published on Thursday, July 8th, 2021, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 09/08/2021

Copyright © 2021, Community & Public Health,