The act of breastfeeding is celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week every year from 1 to 7 August. The idea behind the week dedicated to breastfeeding is to encourage and highlight breastfeeding infants and creating awareness about the impact of breastfeeding on the health of babies around the world. An Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and the week is dedicated to to the declaration and its aims. As per World Health Organisation, this year "WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most." WHO recommends that breastfeeding isn't just vital for children but also decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Moreover, it is estimated that "increased breastfeeding could avert 20 000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer." Benefits of Breast Milk: Breastfeeding Can Reduce High Blood Pressure in Nursing Mothers, Says Study
Theme and Significance of World Breastfeeding Week
This year WHO working towards making significant improvements towards environment and approach towards breastfeeding and maternity. An estimated 78 million babies – or three in five – are not breastfed within the first hour of life, putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding, say UNICEF and WHO in a new report.
Major breastfeeding policies suggested by WHO:
- Paid maternity leave
- Paid paternity leave
- Parent-friendly workplace
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.