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It’s World Breastfeeding Week. How will you celebrate?

August 2, 2013

August 2 Breastfeeding WeekFrom August 1-7, we at Window of Opportunity are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2013.  This year the theme is BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: CLOSE TO MOTHERS which highlights the importance of continued support for lactating mothers and their children throughout the first years of life.  There is no dearth of data on the benefits of breastfeeding for children.  Breastfed babies are:

And we know that breast is best for moms as well.  Breastfeeding mothers are at reduced risk of:

But knowing that something is good for you is not enough to change behavior.  Women and their children need support from their health care providers, employers, families, friends, communities and governments to ensure optimal breastfeeding.  As breast feeding advocates at WBW put it: “The key to best breastfeeding practices is continued day-to-day support for the breastfeeding mother within her home and community.”

What World Leaders in Child Health Have to Say:

“Recognizing the benefits [of breastfeeding] more governments are putting breastfeeding at the center of their childhood nutrition programs… [The] right mix of supportive government policies, comprehensive childhood feeding programs, trained healthcare workers and community outreach significantly increase breastfeeding rates.” –UNICEF

“For breastfeeding to be successful, mothers need support.  Greater efforts are needed to create environments that consider the needs of pregnant and lactating women.  WHO advocates with the International Labor Union for strong support to working mothers.” –World Health Organization

How Window has been Involved

The Window of Opportunity has celebrated World Breast Feeding Week in all five of our program countries (Bangladesh Indonesia, Nicaragua, Peru and Sierra Leone) with activities that promote breastfeeding at the family level and at the community level.  By strengthening the enabling environment, Window is helping to ensure that women have the support they need to breastfeed as needed and that children receive the best start in life.

Supporting Breastfeeding At All Levels and In All Situations

According to WBW, supporting breastfeeding is everyone’s responsibility:

  • FAMILY AND SOCIAL NETWORK: Family and friends compose the mother’s immediate and continuous support network. Social support includes community support – at the market place, within a religious context, at a neighborhood park, etc. Societal support increases the mother’s confidence in her ability to breastfeed beyond the early weeks and months.August 2 Breast Feeding Week
  • HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS: This includes a multitude of opportunities to support breast feeding. These opportunities range from prenatal care, supportive labor and delivery services to postpartum and postnatal care that facilitates optimal infant feeding. 
  • WORKPLACE AND EMPLOYMENT: Employed women face challenges and need support to succeed at working and breastfeeding.
  • GOVERNMENT/LEGISLATION: Women who plan to breastfeed or who are already breastfeeding benefit from the support of international documents, protections for optimal infant feeding, plus active and well funded national commissions.
  • RESPONSE TO CRISIS OR EMERGENCY: This CIRCLE OF SUPPORT represents the need for support IF a woman finds herself in an unexpected and / or serious situation, with little control.

What Can You Do?

Here are just a few suggestions for how you can support breastfeeding women and help the children in your family and community:

  • Support breastfeeding family members by offering to tend to household chores so mothers can breastfeed.
  • Support colleagues by arranging meetings and work days around their feeding schedules.
  • Support people in your community by making public spaces a safe and accepting space for breastfeeding mothers and their children

Post in the comments and tell us how you can support breastfeeding women in your community.  We love hearing your ideas and stories!

Image sources pub336womenshealth.wikispaces.com and http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

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