World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by International government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Far West Local Health District midwives and Child and Family Health nurses work closely with families and are supported by a local Lactation Consultant, to empower, educate, establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months of age and beyond.
This year, WHO is working with UNICEF to promote the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and help parents nurture and bond with their children in early life, when it matters most. 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 breastmilk; and affordable childcare.
Breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800,000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20,000 deaths each year due to breast cancer.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for well babies, with no other food or drinks, starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old.
“Well women and babies who have uninterrupted skin to skin contact immediately after birth have higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the postnatal period. Women are supported by health care staff to seek assistance from their midwife, lactation consultant, nurse or GP when breastfeeding queries arise,” said Clinical Midwifery Consultant, Chelsea Anderson. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added whilst continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
For further information please contact the Broken Hill Hospital Maternity Ward on 08 8080 1386.