World Breastfeeding Week

By Jill Lancaster

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

mom and baby milk
​It’s been widely taught and understood by moms that breastfeeding is the best way to deliver critical nutrients to newborns. WHO, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond!

The theme this year is “Bringing breastfeeding support close to mothers.”

Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, all too often in the weeks or months after delivery there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates, and practices, particularly exclusive breastfeeding. The period when mothers do not visit a healthcare facility is the time when a community support system for mothers is essential. Continued support for the breastfeeding mother can be provided in many ways. Traditionally, support is provided by the family. As societies change, however, support for mothers from a wider circle is needed, whether it is provided by trained health workers, lactation consultants, community leaders, or from friends who are also mothers, and/or from fathers/partners. All of us can impact breastfeeding success!

WHO has come up with some tips for all of us to be supportive of breastfeeding:

Moms: 
  • Before your baby arrives, get the facts on breastfeeding. Read, take a class, ask friends or family who breastfeed successfully.
  • When your baby is born, feed him/her within the first hour of life if possible. Make sure your family knows this is an important time for you and your baby. Also see “Setting yourself up to win at breastfeeding.”
  • You’ll need help learning to breastfeed, and so will your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Intermountain nurses are well trained in breastfeeding assistance, and we have board certified Lactation Consultants at all hospitals ready and willing to help
  • Make sure you get plenty of healthy food, water, and rest. These early weeks can be a challenging time. Take care of yourself too.

Dads or Partners:
  • Help around the house, reduce stress for your partner and make sure she gets enough rest.
  • Burp the baby after feedings, change diapers, bathe, put the baby back to sleep, etc.
  • Give positive and loving moral support. Your partner is likely to have a more successful, enjoyable breastfeeding experience if you believe in her and her ability to breastfeed the baby. Be her biggest cheer leader and protector.
Family and Friends:
  • Provide emotional support and practical help. (Deliver groceries, cook meals, clean the house)
  • Take care of any big brothers and/or sisters.
  • Listen and be supportive. Boost mom’s confidence in her ability to successfully breastfeed.
What can be done in the workplace?
  • Allow moms enough time off to get breastfeeding established.
  • Make it easier for moms to return to work by providing time and a place for moms to breastfeed, or pump and store her milk while working.
  • Support your colleagues while their breastfeeding. It’s not always easy to balance work and being a new mom.
Regular people who are out and about: (I made this one up)
  • If you see a mom breastfeeding her baby in public, give her a warm, knowing smile. New moms especially feel awkward or self-conscious when breastfeeding outside their home. A stern look of disapproval will undermine her determination and confidence. Not helpful!
  • If you’re comfortable in doing so, complement her on her willingness to feed her baby the normal way. Tell her how much she is helping other moms by her own example.
  • If you have nothing positive to say, please say nothing at all. Look the other direction and go on your way…please.