World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launched its first World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) campaign with the theme: "Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative", around 20 years ago.
With a goal to boost the health of infants worldwide and encourage mothers to breastfeed, nearly 120 countries around the world celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from 1-7 August every year.
According to statistics, out of 27 million babies born in India each year, close to 1.2 million babies do not get past the first one month. This is due to poor neonatal care and malnutrition, which are the main reasons for infant mortality in India.
The Theme: Taking Stock of Policies and Programmes
To take stock of implementation of policies and programmes on breastfeeding & infant and young child feeding in India.
To celebrate successes and achievements of past 20 years.
To identify the gaps those exists and call for action to bridge these.
To raise awareness among the public and policy makers about the gaps in policies and programmes related to breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding.
To share the action taken with the national and global community.
Over one million infant lives can be saved by just breast feeding in the 1st hour following the birth of the child. If mothers and families comprehend the benefits of breast feeding for six months, it can save the lives of 250,000 babies annually.
Breastfeeding offers newborns all the nutrition required and therefore the WHO recommends breastfeeding till the baby is six months old.
Breast Milk: Nature`s Protection for Baby
Many types of immunoglobulins are found in abundance in the `first milk` called colostrums. Among the immunoglobulins, IGA is special as it offers protection against infections of the ears, nose, and throat.
Lactoferrin, which is an iron-binding protein, is found in breast milk which offers antibiotic protection against bacteria such as staphylococci and E. coli.
Lysozome, an important digestive ingredient is found amply in breast milk. Breast milk also contains long chain fatty acids, called DHA and ARA which are extremely important for the development of the brain and retina.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is best for your baby. It provides the perfect nutrients and has many benefits:
A mother`s milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein that is needed for a baby`s growth and development. Many of the ingredients of breast milk are not found in cow`s milk. Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile, never improperly prepared, contaminated or spoiled.
Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk. The proportion of protein in mother`s milk is lower than in cow`s milk, making it more digestible. mother`s milk’s fat is also more easily broken down. Infants also have an easier time absorbing the important micronutrients in breast milk.
Protects Infants from Viruses and Bacteria
Breast milk has agents (called antibodies) in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses and to help them in fighting infection and disease. Breastfed babies are less subject to lower respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections and septicemia. Virtually no baby is allergic to breast milk, while certain substances in cow`s milk can trigger allergic responses.
Improves Mother and Child Health
Breastfeeding also helps a mother bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and at comfort. Nursed babies are healthier. The rates of constipation and diarrhea are lower in breast-fed children.
Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds gained dring pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size more quickly and lessens any bleeding a woman may suffer post child birth.
Lowers the Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
Breastfeeding may lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding is convenient for the mother. It requires no planning, packing or equipment. It is always available, and at just the right temperature.