TOMORROW marks the end of World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated every year from August 1 to 7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), World Breastfeeding Week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by policymakers like UNICEF to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding, as noted by the WHO, is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.
This year, WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of helping mothers breastfeed their babies within that crucial first hour of life. Through infographics, the WHO and UNICEF have emphasised the message of skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast to stimulate the production of breast milk, including colostrum, also called the baby's 'first vaccine', which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.
The infographics also push the message of hospitals supporting mothers to breastfeed by checking positioning, attachment and suckling; giving practical breastfeeding support, and helping mothers with common breastfeeding problems. In addition, the infographics encourage hospitals to not promote infant formula, bottles or teats and to make breastfeeding care standard practice by keeping track of support for breastfeeding.
Further, the WHO and UNICEF encouraged health care workers to help mothers recognise the signs when their babies are ready to feed and to also help in positioning the baby at the breast.