World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Importance And Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mothers And Babies
Breastfeeding is the most beautiful part of motherhood. Breast milk protects the baby from various diseases and early infections. Breastfeeding also helps in building a strong, loving bond between the mother and the child. Breast milk is the ultimate gift that a mother can give to her child after birth. World Health Organisation (WHO) and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. After that, it is considered a good practice to continue breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.
Every year the world marks Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to August 7. It is celebrated to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The initiative was started in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF, and other organizations to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
History of Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week dates back to 1979 when WHO started a battle against baby foods being promoted in the market and brands interfering in breastfeeding in hospitals. Globally, it was noticed that powdered milk formula harmed the health of children, and something needed to be done. In 1990, agencies and lawmakers got inspired by the breastfeeding movement and signed Innocenti Declaration. Since 2016, World Breastfeeding Week is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, a World Health Assembly resolution endorsed World Breastfeeding Week as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
- Stronger immune systems
- Less diarrhea and constipation
- Less gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux
- Fewer colds and respiratory illnesses like pneumonia, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and whooping cough
- Fewer ear infections, especially those that damage hearing
- Fewer cases of bacterial meningitis
- Better vision
- Lower rates of infant mortality
- Lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Fewer chances of hospitalization
- Lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases later in life
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers
- Promotes faster weight loss after birth, burning about 500 extra calories a day to build and maintain a milk supply.
- Stimulates the uterus to contract and return to normal size.
- Less postpartum bleeding
- Fewer urinary tract infections
- Less chance of anemia
- Less risk of postpartum depression and more positive mood
- Lower risk of breast cancer
- Lower risk of ovarian cancer
- Lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Fewer chances of endometriosis
- Lower risk of developing osteoporosis with age
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Lower risk of hypertension
- Fewer chances of contracting cardiovascular diseases
Breast milk is all the nutrition and food that babies need for at least the first six months of their life. Breast milk acts as a safety cover for them and protects them from illness. Breastfeeding is extremely important for both the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding can be overwhelming for first-time mums. Therefore, every mother should be encouraged and supported during her breastfeeding journey.