World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Theme, Message, History, and Significance
World Breastfeeding Week 2021: The day highlights the benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both the health and welfare of babies. The day also focuses on maternal health, good nutrition, poverty reduction, etc. The best source of nourishment for infants and young children is breastfeeding. It is a proven lifesaving strategy that helps in protecting children against various common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from 1-7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve babies' health around the world.
Breastfeeding is important for a child as it provides the best possible start in life. It provides health nutritional and emotional benefits to both mother and children. Also, it makes part of a sustainable food system. Breastfeeding is a natural process and is not always easy. Support to the mothers is required both to get started and to sustain it.
World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Theme
The theme of 2021 is "Protect breastfeeding: a shared responsibility". It focuses on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all.
The theme of 2020 was "Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet". Along with the theme, WHO and UNICEF are focusing on counselling and calling governments to protect and promote women's access to skilled breastfeeding counselling which is an important component for supporting breastfeeding.
Why are skilled breastfeeding counselling services necessary?
According to the joint message of UNICEF and WHO, skilled counselling services ensures that mother and families will get the support along with the required information, advise and the reassurance needed for the babies optimally.
On the other side counselling for breastfeeding can help mothers to build confidence while respecting their individual circumstances and choices. It will also help women to overcome challenges they face, prevent feeding and care practices that can interfere with optimal breastfeeding including the provision of unnecessary liquids, foods, and breastmilk substitutes to infants and young children.
Counselling may help to extend the duration of breastfeeding and promote exclusive breastfeeding which in turn benefit the health of babies.
Let us brief you that by several actors, skilled breastfeeding counselling can be provided including health care, lactation counsellors, peer support providers, in different settings like in health facilities or clinics through home visits or community programmes, etc.
In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to find various innovative solutions so that the essential services are not disrupted and when required families may get breastfeeding counselling.
Reasons behind calling on governments by UNICEF and WHO are:
Invest that is to ensure that all women will get breastfeeding counselling when required. This in turn will increase financing for breastfeeding programmes and improved monitoring and implementation of policies, programmes, and services.
Train all those health care workers associated with it including midwives and nurses. So that skilled breastfeeding counselling can be provided to mothers and families.
Ensure that skilled breastfeeding counselling is available as routine health exercise and nutrition services.
Partner that is collaborating with civil society and health professionals associations, to build strong collaborative systems for the provision of appropriate counselling.
At last, protect all those health workers from the influence of the baby food industry.
World Breastfeeding Week: History
In 1991, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed to act on the Innocent Declaration of 1990 to protect, support, and promote breastfeeding. As part of this action plan, WABA conceptualises a global unifying breastfeeding strategy for promotion. A day was suggested to be marked in an international calendar event. And later the idea of celebrating it on a day was turned into a week.
And it came to be known as World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which is celebrated from 1-7 August to commemorate the Innocent Declaration. In 1992, the first World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated. Now, it is celebrated in more than 100 countries.
Why is breastfeeding important?
There are several advantages to breastfeeding. It is optimal for both mothers and babies. It can protect babies against infections and reduce the rates of later health problems like diabetes, obesity, and asthma. It is said that for mothers, breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract and bleeding to cease more quickly after delivery. Also, it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and helps to generate a great bond for mothers with their babies.
For a new baby, breast milk is the best source of nutrition. In breast milk, there are various components that help in protecting babies against infection and disease. Also, the protein present in breast milk is easily digested by the baby rather than in formula or cow's milk. Also, calcium and iron present in breast milk are more easily absorbed.
Therefore, World Breastfeeding Week 2020 campaign focuses on the negative effects of artificial feeding that pave on the environment and also the way it serves as a drain on natural resources.