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What is World Breastfeeding Week?
World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and supported by a coalition of organizations including UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, La Leche League and the International Lactation Consultant Association. This year’s theme is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life. It highlights that achieving all eight Millennium Development Goals (especially MDGs 4&5) requires more early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding.
Here’s what the World Health Organization says:
If every child was 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, about 800,000 child lives would be saved every year. Globally, less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding, counseling and support are essential for mothers and families to initiate and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices.
Who is breastfeeding?
Not as many mothers and babies as global health organizations think should be.
In developing countries: According to UNICEF: Only 39% of all infants 0–5 months of age are exclusively breastfed. Of those who start breastfeeding, less than 60% of 6-to 9-month-olds continued to be breastfed.
In developed countries: Save The Children’s Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard for Developed Countries shows how many women are breastfeeding in industrialized countries. Norway is at the top of the list with 99% of mothers initiating breastfeeding, 70% still exclusively breastfeeding at three months and 80% still breastfeeding at least some at six months
Who isn’t breastfeeding?
Plenty of women are unable or choose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons.
* Malnutrition, dehydration and poor health means some women cannot establish an adequate milk supply.
* Nipple or breast injuries, surgeries or defects that make milk production or nursing impossible.
* Inaccurate beliefs that formula is healthier nutritionally or that breast milk isn’t enough
* Encouragement by formula makers to choose bottle over breast
* Lack of support and education about nutrition, breastfeeding techniques, health and hygiene issues.
* Cultural opinions that breastfeeding is unhygienic or immodest.
* Personal aversion caused by pain, anxiety or discomfort during breastfeeding, trauma or history of abuse
* Persistent beliefs that breastfeeding can transfer HIV to a baby despite global health authorities directives that even HIV positive mothers should breastfeed.
What about breastfeeding and work?
For women all over the world, one of the biggest contributors for not breastfeeding is the challenge of breastfeeding and returning to work.
A World Health Bulletin titled: Breastfeeding policy: a globally comparative analysis looked at several global variables to determine contributors to high and low breastfeeding rates in 182 countries.They found that regardless of literacy rates, GDP or urban/rural location, high-income countries have the lowest breastfeeding rates and low-income countries have the highest. They also determined that countries where women make up a high percentage of the workforce and have national policies guaranteeing breastfeeding breaks also have higher breastfeeding rates.
Every Mother Counts is a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world. EMC informs, engages, and mobilizes new audiences to take action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women worldwide. Queen Bee Maternity has chosen to become a community and awareness ambassador for Every Mother Counts, in order to help educate audiences about maternal health in Australia. Together, we can make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms.