World Breastfeeding Week 2018: “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life”

World Breastfeeding Week 2018: “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life”

#WorldBreastfeedingWeek is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August. It is a valuable way to advocate for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding everywhere. The theme this year is “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life” — in recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to a baby’s future.

Feeding infants nothing but breastmilk for the first six months of life otherwise known as “exclusive breastfeeding” helps young children grow, prevents undernutrition, promotes brain development, and reduces the risk that children will become overweight. This is also a beneficial, economical practice which increases the bond between mother and child. Breastmilk acts as the baby’s first vaccine, providing the necessary antibodies and a boost in immunity.

From the second your child is born, breastfeeding can mean the difference between life and death. Putting newborns to the breast within the first hour of life protects them against newborn deaths. In fact, globally improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 823,000 children under age five every year.

Despite the many known advantages, only about two out of five of all newborns are put to the breast within an hour of birth — and only 40 per cent of children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed worldwide. This is because many women who give birth often miss out on the support that needs to be provided by healthcare workers, families, spouses, and even their overall surroundings (such as workplaces).

WHO advises member countries to find new innovative ways to help children by providing them the lifesaving benefit of life: breastfeeding. This includes increased funding for comprehensive breastfeeding programmes, better monitoring systems to track breastfeeding trends, strengthened maternity and paternity leave provisions that encourage breastfeeding, and improved breastfeeding counselling and support in health facilities.

As we mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, let us also recommit to doing more to help every child, everywhere, to have access to this lifesaving elixir and practice, no matter where they live