As the world marks this year’s World Breastfeeding Week between August 1 and August 7, Nigeria also joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), a global campaign which focuses on raising awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages.
This year’s theme is ‘enabling breastfeeding – making a difference for working parents’ and during the week, organisations and advocates showcased the impact of paid leave, workplace support and emerging parenting norms on breastfeeding. The y also engaged governments at all levels, policymakers, workplaces, communities and parents on the need to play their critical roles in empowering families and sustaining breastfeeding-friendly environments in the post-pandemic work life.
In Nigeria, the health impact of stopping breastfeeding early was the attention and many advocates sensitized women on the benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and their babies.
The Milk Booster and Milk Bank Nigeria is one of the organisations that took part in the commemoration of the week with the advocacy on why breastfeeding is essential for the overall health and wellness of both baby and mother and how it reduces the risk of many illnesses and diseases in a newborn; from respiratory issues like pneumonia to gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea, including lowering the risk of allergy, eczema, asthma, and atopic dermatitis.
Advocates noted that breast milk provides the perfect nutrition that contains everything a baby needs for the first six months of life and provides a lot of immediate and long-term benefits that follow the baby as they grow to become toddlers, teenagers, and a grown adult.
According to nutrition experts, for a newborn, the first milk (colostrum), is loaded with antibodies, coats the lining of the gut preventing the passage of bacteria and viruses into the baby’s body system.
Every year, WBD is celebrated in the first week of August and observed globally to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and its benefits. Its main aim is to support and encourage breastfeeding as a vital aspect of health and well-being for both mother and child.
In line with the theme of this year’s WBD, emphasis was put on the need for greater breastfeeding support across all workplaces to sustain and improve progress on breastfeeding rates globally.
To reach the global 2030 target of 70 per cent, it was noted that the barriers women and families face in achieving their breastfeeding goals must be addressed as statistics have shown that breastfeeding rates drop significantly for women when they return to work but can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies.
They called for family-friendly workplace policies such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk – create an environment that benefits not only working women and their families but also employers.
Advocates also emphasised the need for continuous desensitisation of the public with online and offline education while encouraging new mums going back to work to start preparing early, from the first two weeks after delivery, on how to breastfeed and store the milk for the baby.
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