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World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week 2019: Empowering parents

August 6, 2019

Apart from creating a special bond between the mother and child, breastfeeding is the foundation for a child’s health. During the early stages of life, breastfeeding provides the essential nutrition that are needed the child’s overall growth and development.

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2019 is being observed every year on the first week of August. According to Joyce Jayaseelan, Lactation Consultant, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, breastfeeding  is “nature’s most valuable gift to a newborn is mother’s milk. It is superior to any other feed available in the market. The newborn should start breastfeeding within an hour of delivery, when the baby is still alert. It is important because baby sucking increases milk production and establishes bonding between the mother and the baby.”

Jayaseelan further adds, “The ‘colostrum’, first milk which is thick yellow in colour, will be developed as few drops in mothers breast after delivery. Nature provides this colostrum to newborns as a gift, with nutrients and immunoglobulin to fight against many diseases. It has vitamin A which is essential. The more the baby sucks, the more breast milk production happens.” It serves as a child’s first immunization, thus providing protection from common diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia. 

World Breastfeeding Week 2019 theme:

The slogan for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”. It has been carefully chosen so as to promote inclusivity of all types of parents in the world, which includes people from the LGBTQ community.

According to the National Health Portal, which has been setup by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, “Empowerment is a process that requires evidence-based unbiased information and support to create the enabling environment where mothers can breastfeed optimally. Breastfeeding is in the mother’s domain and when fathers, partners, families, workplaces, and communities support her, breastfeeding improves.”

Jayaseelan also mentioned a few pointers that are crucial to understand. If the baby is getting enough milk, he/she should pass urine 6-8 times in 24 hours starting from the 3rd day; should sleep about 2 hours after feeding
and gain 10-15 gms weight per day (after 2 weeks). She also explained, “During the first six months, only exclusive breastfeeding is required, no other feed is recommended.”

Communities involved in promoting breastfeeding:

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), which organises the WBW every year, is a global network concerned with the protection and promotion of breastfeeding worldwide. They work in with coordination of the WHO and UNICEF. According to a press release, the platform has devoted to advocating “parental social protection policies and legislation; parent-friendly workplaces in both formal and informal sectors, and parent-friendly values and gender-equitable social norms.” According to these organisations, the initiation of breastfeeding should happen within the first hour of life.

A survey conducted by the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 in India showed that only 42.6% mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth. Further, 54.9% children were exclusively breastfed during first six months of life.

In order to improve infant and young child feeding, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India launched a national breastfeeding promotion programme as MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection). 

The MAA programme, implemented since August 2016, is launched to improve and support breastfeeding and child feeding practices in the country. According to NHP, The “chief components of the MAA Programme are community awareness generation, strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points in public health facilities, and monitoring and award/recognition.”

Sukanya Nandy

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