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World Breastfeeding Week

August 1st – 7th 2017

First celebrated in 1992, World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). WABA is a global network of organizations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right.  World Breastfeeding Week focuses on breastfeeding issues surrounding mothers and babies worldwide.  This first week in August is designated to mark the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration, on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/1990-2005-gb.pdf

  • "Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life," said Dr. Tedros Adhonom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "Breastmilk works like a baby's first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.

Decisions regarding breastfeeding are strongly influenced by economic, environmental, social and political factors. This year, UNICEF and the WHO are leading The Global Breastfeeding Collective, a partnership of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and donors, formed to accelerate progress towards improving the rates of breastfeeding initiation and continuation for two years. Seeking increased political commitment for breastfeeding and subsequent funding, a recently released WHO report Tracking Progress for Breastfeeding Policies and Programmes: Global Breastfeeding Scorecard 2017  very clearly states: “Worldwide, performance on recommended policies and programmes for breastfeeding is poor. No country is highly compliant on all indicators, illustrating that substantial progress on all fronts is needed. Unfortunately, countries are not adequately protecting, promoting, or supporting breastfeeding.” Through the development of the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard they were able to analyze 194 nations and the successes and failures of each country’s efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding through funding or policies. The WHO found that only 40% of babies worldwide are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. The analysis goes on to explain that an increase to 60% in the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding can be achieved by 2025 by an annual investment of US $4.70 per newborn.

To achieve this goal the collective stresses the importance of:

Improving breastfeeding rates from birth through two years. The WHO says “If every child were breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, it is estimated that 800,000 lives would be saved every year.” Exclusive breastfeeding is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. The Center for Disease Control cautions that...” children, particularly infants with diarrhea regardless of the cause, may represent a source of infection for others with whom they have contact.”

Full implementation and enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  An international code to regulate the marketing of breast-milk substitutes was adopted in 1981. It calls for: all formula labels to state the benefits of breastfeeding and the health risks of substitutes; no promotion of breast-milk substitutes and no free samples to be given to pregnant women, mothers or their families. When infant formula is not properly prepared, there are risks arising from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula. Malnutrition can result from over-diluting formula to "stretch" supplies.

Enacting paid family leave “Millions of Americans aren't offered a single day off work following the birth or adoption of a child, and 1 in 4 new moms go back to work 10 days after childbirth.” says PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States, a non-profit advocating for paid family leave.  According to their report released in May 2017, several companies including Starbucks, Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) and Walmart announced paid family leave policies. The PL+US report also shows many companies are providing these benefits only to top-level employees. The report sadly states, “The people who most need paid family leave are the least likely to have it.”

Enacting and Enforcing existing breastfeeding/pumping policies at places of employment  Providing breastfeeding mothers with all that is necessary to maintain their milk supply when separated from their babies is essential to maintaining adequate nutrition: In the USA there is currently: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” See 29 U.S.C. 207(r). The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding/Baby friendly Initiative: https://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/about-us/baby-friendly-hospital-initiative/the-ten-steps

Most importantly for mothers after giving birth... #’s 4-10:

4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

6. Give infants no food or drinks other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Continuing research yields evidence showing that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women. Exclusive breastfeeding is associated with a natural (though not fail-safe) method of birth control (98% protection in the first six months after birth).

"Breastfeeding is one of the most effective—and cost effective—investments nations can make in the health of their youngest members and the future health of their economies and societies," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "By failing to invest in breastfeeding, we are failing mothers and their babies—and paying a double price: in lost lives and in lost opportunity." Food for thought...

Paula Zindler BSN RN IBCLC

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