A WORD FROM THE GENERAL DIRECTOR OF GHO: INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY – AUGUST 12TH 2022
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2022

Breastfeeding
A Mother's Gift, for every child

Breastfeeding is the act of feeding an infant with milk directly from the breast. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, this should be done from birth, for 6 months, and until the child becomes 2 years old.

Accoedind to WHO:

  • Globally, 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour of life.
  • 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months.
  • Only 41% of infants under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.

Factors Affecting the decision to breastfeed

According to the Public Health agency of Canada, the factors affecting the decisions of mothers not to breastfeed their babies, or to breastfeed for less than 6 months, are mainly psychological and sociological in nature. They are:

  •  Cultural and social backgrounds (School, Jobs)
  • Lack of confidence (Linked to the age of the mother)
  • Dependency on other people’s point of view.
  • The point of view of the doctor is also the most determinant. Studies show that, women who perceive the fact that their Doctor encourage breastfeeding are more susceptible to breastfeed their babies. So to solve this problem.

              Normally, 90% of Canadian women have the intention of breastfeeding, so Doctors should know the importance of breastfeeding and communicate positive messages to accompany the decision of the patients.

In some countries, women breastfeed their children in public. This is just normal because there is no specific time for that, and the health of the mother and the child are in play.

Statistics from UNICEF show that: In low- and middle-income countries, just 4%, or 1 in 25 babies, are never breastfed. In high-income countries, 21% of babies, or more than 1 in 5, never receive breastmilk. 

In Canada,  and in most developed countries, the populations are mostly made up of seniors because the lifestyle doesn’t permit to make children or even to take care of the child properly. Most people prefer to feed their babies with artificial milk, which is not really the best for the babies’ development.

The importance of breastfeeding to the Mother

According to UNICEF,

  • breastfeeding has been shown to protect against postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum depression, ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • It is estimated that improving breastfeeding rates could prevent an additional 20,000 maternal deaths from breast cancer.
  • Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfed babies are also less likely to have ear infections and stomach bugs. (CDC)
  • Breast milk shares antibodies from the mother with her baby. These antibodies help babies develop a strong immune system and protect them from illnesses.(CDC)

The importance of breastfeeding TO THE CHILD

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According to UNICEF,

  • Breastfeeding, initiated within the first hour of birth, provided exclusively for
    six months, and continued up to two years or beyond with the provision of safe
    and appropriate complementary foods, is one of the most powerful practices
    for promoting child survival and wellbeing.
  • Improving breastfeeding rates
    around the world could save the lives of more than 820,000 children under
    age 5 every year, the majority (87 per cent) under 6 months of age.
  • In addition to improving child survival and protecting against life-threatening
    and chronic illnesses, breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and boosts early
    child development.
  • Breastfeeding supports healthy brain development, and is
    associated with higher performance in intelligence tests among children and
    adolescents across all income levels.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding while introducing complementary foods until a child is 12 months old or older. You can read the full recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.external icon