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World Breastfeeding Week
Erica Barnett, 15 Aug 07

Breastfeeding IconWorld Breastfeeding Week. Breastfeeding advocates encourage mothers worldwide to breastfeed their babies, a practice encouraged by leading health authorities around the world. According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a partnership that includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and La Leche League International, universal breastfeeding within one hour of birth would prevent an estimated one million infant deaths a year; in addition, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that if every child in the world were breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, 1.5 million lives would be saved every year. Yet, as a report card released this year by the International Baby Food Action Network reveals, few nations report an initial breastfeeding rate of even 50 percent.

Early breastfeeding, numerous studies have revealed, provides crucial nutrients, protects infants against disease, and promotes growth and development.

Part of the reason for the low worldwide breastfeeding rate is that women increasingly must integrate child-rearing and breastfeeding with income-generating labor, and workplaces are frequently not set up to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. Worldwide, women's labor tends to be difficult, poorly compensated, and unprotected by labor laws. Globalization and the increasingly poor conditions under which women labor worldwide make it all the more vital that maternity rights, including the right to breastfeed (and, along with it, the right of children to have adequate food), are recognized as human rights around the world.

Among other measures, WABA recommends that nations:

  • Recognize women and children's right to food and health as a human right;

  • Provide for adequate maternity leave and flexible work hours to facilitate breastfeeding. While a report by the International Labour Office found that the vast majority of nations provide some amount of maternity leave, it also concluded that enforcement was spotty and many women were left unprotected.

  • Call on employers to provide lactation facilities in the workplace;

  • Protect and promote awareness of women’s right to breastfeed in public places;

  • Provide accurate information on the benefits of breastfeeding to healthcare workers and pregnant women;

  • Prohibit the promotion of breast milk substitutes; in Britain, formula manufacturers spend more than £10promoting their products for every £1 the government spends promoting breastfeeding.

In the US, breastfeeding, particular at the workplace and in public, remains an incredibly contentious subject. According to Women's ENews, in Pennsylvania, a woman breastfeeding in a shopping mall was asked to take her baby to the bathroom or her car. In Ohio, a woman was kicked out of a Wal-Mart store for breastfeeding after customers complained. And in Hawaii, a woman was asked to leave the children's section of a public library after another mother complained that her son was unable to concentrate. One US representative, Carolyn Mahoney of New York, has introduced federal legislation to encourage continued breastfeeding by working women; although initial breastfeeding rates in the US are high, they drop to a third of all women after six months.

Image: flickr/topinambour

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Thanks for writing about World Breastfeeding Week. I just wanted to share an event that is going on the whole month of August, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week:

The 2nd Annual World Breastfeeding Week Book Release Challenge will be held from August 1st - 31st, 2007.

Last year more than 150 books were "released into the wild" from all over the world; including the USA, Holland, Portugal and more. This year our goal is to double that number.

Prizes include personalized signed copies of:

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley
Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley
Mama Knows Breast by Andi Silverman
Near Mama's Heart by Colleen Newman
A Gift for Baby by Jan Hunt
And lots more . . . .

For more information visit:

Posted by: Colleen Newman on 16 Aug 07



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