World Breastfeeding Week 2019: Origin, significance, policies suggested by World Health Organisation, UNICEF

  • World Breastfeeding Week or WBW is an annual global celebration held to spread awareness around health benefits of breastfeeding infants.

  • Every year this week is celebrated between 1 and 7 August to encourage breastfeeding around the world.

  • World breastfeeding week traces back to the Innocenti Declaration which was signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

  • According to WHO, breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels can help save over 800 000 lives every year

World Breastfeeding Week or WBW is an annual global celebration held to spread awareness around health benefits of breastfeeding infants. Every year this week is celebrated between 1 and 7 August to encourage breastfeeding around the world. Here’s throwing some light on the importance of this week.

Origin of WBW:

World Breastfeeding Week traces its origins back to the Innocenti Declaration that was signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. The week celebrates the declaration and its agendas.

 World Breastfeeding Week 2019: Origin, significance, policies suggested by World Health Organisation, UNICEF

Representational image. Reuters

Why is breastfeeding important?

Let’s start with understanding how breastfeeding impacts the health of infants. Primarily, breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of asthma or allergies in babies.

Besides that, those babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhoea. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age.

As per WHO breastfeeding isn't just vital for children but it 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."

What’s happening this year:

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."

Apart from this, WHO is also working towards improving the society’s approach towards breastfeeding and maternity.

Breastfeeding policies suggested by WHO this year:

1) Paid maternity leave: WHO aims to stress upon enacting paid maternity leaves of at least 18 weeks.

2) Paid paternity leave: This to encourage shared responsibility of taking care of children on an equal basis.

3) Parent-friendly workplace: Through this, WHO wishes to highlight the importance of a parent-friendly workplace to encourage mothers to breastfeed. WHO proposes access to breastfeeding breaks and providing mothers with a safe, private and hygienic space for expressing and storing breast milk. It will also focus on providing affordable childcare.

According to WHO, breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels can help save over 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.

WHO also 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 two years or beyond.

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2019 11:49:56 IST



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