The theme of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”.
This slogan helps to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counseling which is considered as a taboo worldwide and women have to pass through some difficulties in the beginning phase of breast feeding.
Breastfeeding provides every child with the best possible start in life. It provides health, nutritional and emotional benefits to both children and mothers. But it is not always easy. Mothers need support – both to get started and to sustain breastfeeding. Moreover, there are many different demands on busy mother’s, meaning that women who may want to breastfeed their babies haven’t always got the support to continue this. Busy working schedules, alongside the many other challenges that modern women face can mean that women don’t always feel that breastfeeding their child is something that is an accessible option to them.
- Skilled counseling services can ensure that mothers and families receive this support, along with the information, the advice, and the reassurance they need to nourish their babies optimally.
- Breastfeeding counseling can help mothers to build confidence while respecting their individual circumstances and choices
- Counseling can empower women to overcome challenges and prevent feeding and care practices that may interfere with optimal breastfeeding, such as the provision of unnecessary liquids, foods, and breast milk substitutes to infants and young children.
- Improving access to skilled counseling for breastfeeding can extend the duration of breastfeeding and promote exclusive breastfeeding, with benefits for babies, families and economies.
This year WHO is working on 2 main agendas to make breast-feeding easier and more frequent for mothers.
- This includes enacting paid maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, and paid paternity leave to encourage shared responsibility of caring for their children on an equal basis.
- Mothers also need access to a parent friendly workplace to protect and support their ability to continue breastfeeding upon return to work by having access to breastfeeding breaks; a safe, private, and hygienic space for expressing and storing breast milk; and affordable childcare.
BREASTFEEDING AND COVID-19 CRISIS:
During COVID-19 crisis, we need to make sure that easy access to these essential services is not disrupted and that families continue to receive the breastfeeding counseling they need.
UNICEF and WHO, in line with the policy actions advocated by the UNICEF-WHO-led Global Breastfeeding Collective, are calling on governments to:
- INVEST to make skilled breastfeeding counselling available to every woman. Ensuring availability of skilled breastfeeding counselling to every woman will require increased financing for breastfeeding programmes and improved monitoring and implementation of policies, programmes and services.
- TRAIN health care workers, including midwives and nurses, to deliver skilled breastfeeding counselling to mothers and families.
- ENSURE that counselling is made available as part of routine health and nutrition services that are easily accessible.
- PARTNER and collaborate with civil society and health professional associations, building strong collaborative systems for provision of appropriate counselling.
- PROTECT health care workers from the influence of the baby food industry.
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.