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 newborns and babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policymakers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Photo: Guy Calaf/Save the Children
Alemeneshe, 32, breastfeeds her son Ayalres while seeing a clinical nurse at the Tewa Health Centre in Ethiopia's Amhara region. One in ten children dies before their fifth birthday in Ethiopia, many from preventable diseases. Save the Children is working with this health facility and others to increase healthcare access through fee waiver initiatives.
This initiative also includes training of 29 traditional birth attendants in key aspects of antenatal and postnatal maternal and newborn care, including breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six month of life to ensure newborn survival. It should begin within one hour of birth and should be done as often as the child wants, both day and night. Globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding support for mothers and families could save many young lives.
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants, providing them with the essential nutrients they need for development. It also contains antibodies that help protect infants from illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia.
Breastfeeding is also very beneficial for mothers. According to the WHO, it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life and helps women return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity. Additionally, when breastfeeding is done exclusively, it can been associated with a natural method of family planning.
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