August is Global Breastfeeding Awareness onth.
Here is why it's important
August is Global Breastfeeding Awareness month. It is a period where the world celebrates breastfeeding, encouraging more women to breastfeed for the all-around better development of the child. Global Breastfeeding Awareness was introduced to spread awareness about the importance and need for breastfeeding.
To mark this very important month, we here at Momanda sought to dive deep into the history and significance of Global Breastfeeding Awareness month. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways that a mother can nourish her child. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast milk is hands down the best nutritional source for infants.
History of Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month
The history of Global Breastfeeding Awareness month starts with the introduction of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Observed from August 1st to August 7th every year, it aims to help educate people worldwide about the importance and need for breastfeeding.
In 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) worked together to create a memorandum to promote and support breastfeeding. This was the Innocenti Declaration and it was signed in August 1990 by WHO, UNICEF, government policymakers, and other organizations.
In 1991, the Innocenti Declaration led to the formation of the World Association of Breastfeeding Action to execute the goals of UNICEF and WHO to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding with a focus on good nutrition, poverty reduction, and food security.
In 1992, the first week of August was dedicated to promoting this campaign. In the beginning, only about 70 countries observed World Breastfeeding Week. Today, this number has grown to over 170 countries.
On August 6, 2011, August was declared to be Breastfeeding Awareness Month, extending World Breastfeeding Week to include the whole month of August. WBW is still observed in most countries while the whole month of August is dedicated to advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure that all families have the opportunity to breastfeed.
As we mark Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month, here is a look at some of the most important statistics on the state of breastfeeding in the US and around the world:
📌US Breastfeeding Statistics
- By 2017, 84.1% of infants started breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.
- Of this number, only 58.3% were breastfeeding at 6 months
- 19.2% of breastfed infants supplemented with infant formula before 2 days of age
- Only 25.6% of infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 months
- Less than 40% of all babies are breastfeeding by the time they turn a year old
📌Global Breastfeeding Statistics
According to WHO, global breastfeeding rates are still lower than what is required to protect the health of women and children. Here are the main takeaways from their report:
- Between 2013 to 2018, 43% of newborns were breastfed within an hour of birth.
- Only 41% of babies under six months are exclusively breastfed around the world.
- 70% of breastfeeding women continue to breastfeed their babies for at least one year. However, by two years of age, this number drops to 45%.
The WHO targets that these numbers by 2030 become:
- 70% of women breastfeed within the first hour of life
- 70% of mothers exclusively breastfeed
- 80% of breastfeeding women continue to breastfeed for at least one year
- 60% of breastfeeding women still breastfeed at two years
According to the WHO report, globally, countries are still falling short of doing everything they can to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding.
Importance of Breastfeeding Awareness Month
You may be wondering why we need a Global Breastfeeding Awareness month in the first place. Isn’t breastfeeding everywhere? If you went through social media right now, wouldn’t you find thousands of images and videos of nursing moms and infants? Don’t health departments provide enough information and resources for families as it is?
Yes, a lot of progress has been made in recent years. It is outreach and advocacy campaigns like World Breastfeeding Week and Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month that have led to this progress. They provide the opportunity to celebrate families and their breastfeeding journeys.
Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month is also a time to take a closer look at the state of breastfeeding around the world.
Through World Breastfeeding Week and Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we get to draw our focus on the inequalities in infant breastfeeding and the challenges that families have to go through. It is also a time for communities, including governments, healthcare providers, educators, businesses, and social organizations, to learn more and to reexamine policies and practices to ensure that they are effectively promoting, protecting, and supporting breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week and Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month have a single goal: to highlight the importance of breastfeeding while encouraging and promoting it to improve the health of babies and mothers around the world.
Did you know that an increase in breastfeeding levels could save more than 700,000 lives of children under six months every year? Or that increased breastfeeding could avert an estimated more than 20,000 maternal deaths due to breast cancer each year?
The aim of Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month is:
- To support mothers and breastfeeding persons through peer groups allowing them to promote, establish, and carry on breastfeeding and teaching families about the benefits of Peer Counseling.
- To educate and train health care workers to help them provide support to mothers and babies more effectively.
- To call governments to action so that they can recognize the importance of the protection and promotion of breastfeeding and provision of the legislation that supports breastfeeding mothers
- To deepen the knowledge within communities allowing them to enhance, promote, and protect breastfeeding.
The importance of breastfeeding cannot be understated. Experts agree that breastfeeding is an easy way for mothers and babies to create a unique emotional bond that will last throughout their lives.
Breast milk is the most nutritious source of food for babies, at least for the first six months of life. It has been proven to help protect babies from many diseases and infections while also boosting their immunity. Breast milk is packed with all the necessary nutrients that babies need to thrive, including water, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids, enzymes, and white cells. Additionally, the act of breastfeeding not only benefits the child but also helps the mother in numerous ways, not least of which is reducing the risk of various types of cancer while aiding in post-pregnancy weight loss.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should be breastfed exclusively for at least the first six months of life. Breast milk contains all the nutrients that a baby needs during this time. Thereafter, you should keep breastfeeding your child until at least 12 months of age while introducing other foods. Past 12 months, you should continue breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby wish to do so.
2022 Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month
Every August, Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month is observed around the world through social media advocacy and outreach campaigns involving governments, organizations, and individuals inviting them to participate in action and conversation (both online and offline) about policy and practice changes that are needed to better support babies and families through breastfeeding.
Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month and World Breastfeeding Week have different themes each year.
This year, the Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month theme is “Together We Do Great Things.”
This theme was selected to celebrate the impact and power that our collective efforts can yield. Any one person cannot achieve the vision of thriving families. We have to all come together and work together to make changes happen.
Here is a breakdown of this year’s Global Breastfeeding Awareness month scheduled observances:
- Week 1: World Breastfeeding Week
Dates: August 1-7
Theme: Educate & Support
- Week 2: Indigenous Milk Medicine Week
Dates: August 8-14
Theme: Strengthening Our Traditions From Birth and Beyond
- Week 3: Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week
Dates: August 15-21
Theme: Telling Our Own Stories. Elevating Our Voices.
- Week 4: Black Breastfeeding Week
Dates: August 25-31
Theme: BBW 2022: 10 Years, A New Foundation
How can you celebrate Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month and World Breastfeeding Week?
Here are some of the things you can do as an individual to celebrate this year:
- Spread the word online through your social media and/or your website
- Take action in some of the ways recommended by the US Breastfeeding Committee
- Reach out to your local government to proclaim your community as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Community.
- Support and amplify the work of your local breastfeeding advocates, coalitions, and organizations
- Provide opportunities to lift the breastfeeding journeys of families in your community
At Momanda, we support breastfeeding and Global Breastfeeding Awareness Month by providing quality nursing bras that help make the lives of breastfeeding moms a lot easier. Additionally, we have a collection of resources in our blog that is designed to assist new mothers in learning how to breastfeed successfully from the start. Per the goals of Global Breastfeeding Awareness month, we want to do our part in spreading the word and highlighting the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to the health and welfare of babies, along with all its tremendous benefits to maternal health.
Let’s celebrate Global Breastfeeding Awareness month by initiating deeper conversations about breastfeeding. How can we enable moms and families to feel supported in their breastfeeding journeys? What can you do to make the life of a breastfeeding mom a little easier?
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