World Breastfeeding Week 2018
This week from 1 to 7 August is World Breastfeeding Week and the theme for 2018 is ‘Foundation of life’.
The aim of this year’s theme is to create awareness of how breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms, ensures food security even in times of crisis and breaks the cycle of poverty.
The importance of breastfeeding for newborns around the world was highlighted further yesterday (31 July) with the release of Unicef and the WHO’s report Capture the moment. Read more here.
RCM professional policy advisor Clare Livingstone said breastfeeding is one of the most important markers of an individual’s future health and wellbeing, as it confers important health benefits for both mother and baby.
She added: ‘This is why health services need to make greater efforts to support and encourage new mothers to start and sustain breastfeeding. This can be facilitated through better support, considerate maternity and return to work policies and a legislative framework that enables women to breastfeed when out and about.’
Clare said that high-quality postnatal services are also important for women and their babies, and this means there must be enough midwives and MSWs in place to give women the support and advice they need to establish and continue breastfeeding.
‘In many countries, breastfeeding is the safest way to feed a baby, as access to clean water for making up powdered milk is often limited or non-existent. Governments across the world need to understand the importance of breastfeeding not just to the health of the mother and baby, but to the long-term health of their nation,’ she said.
However the reality is that often some women for a variety of reasons struggle to start or sustain breastfeeding.
‘Evidence clearly shows that breastfeeding in line with WHO guidance brings optimum benefits for the health of both mother and baby. However, if after being given appropriate information, advice and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding her decision must be respected,’ Claire explained.
‘This being the case she should then be given all the advice and support they need on safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby.’
Read the RCM’s position statement on infant feeding here.
Access more information on World Breastfeeding Week here.