By The Editors
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
According to the Innocenti Declaration, breastfeeding is a unique process that:
- Provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development.
- Reduces incidence and severity of infectious diseases, thereby lowering infant morbidity and mortality.
- Contributes to women’s health by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and by increasing the spacing between pregnancies.
- Provides social and economic benefits to the family and the nation.
- Provides most women with a sense of satisfaction when successfully carried out.
Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
You can read below the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2013:
1. To draw attention to the importance of Peer Support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding.
2. To inform people of the highly effective benefits of Peer Counselling, and unite efforts to expand peer counselling programmes.
3. To encourage breastfeeding supporters, regardless of their educational background, to step forward and be trained to support mothers and babies.
4. To identify local community support contacts for breastfeeding mothers, that women can go to for help and support after giving birth.
5. To call on governments and maternity facilities globally to actively implement the Ten Steps, in particular Step 10, to improve duration and rates of exclusive breastfeeding.