Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), with this year’s theme being ‘Step up for Breastfeeding’ with a focus on education and support. World Breast Feeding week is celebrated every year in 170 countries, on August 1st through to August 7th. It’s important for lots of reasons, but most of all, every reminder we can get that breastfeeding is the best possible option for our babies, the better.
Our lives aren’t really set up for breastfeeding. We’re always in a rush, we’ve always got something we need to do, to send, to tweet, some place to be; but breastfeeding requires us to sit and connect with our baby. Both physically and emotionally. And it’s easy to convince ourselves that we are too busy to sit down and feed our child. So it’s a good reminder that, in so many ways, breastfeeding is good for all of us.
But it’s bigger than just us. We really do live in the ‘lucky country’ where we have clean water, good housing; a system that supports us. But it’s not like that everywhere, and the WBW website explains: “In a world filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers.”
Many of us will look back on our time breastfeeding our babies as brimming with love and sentimentality, but across other not-so-lucky countries, it means so much more. It means that for poverty-stricken countries, they can provide the best possible nutrition available for their baby, it means they don’t need to rely on logistics, water-safety or money to safely feed their child.
WBW is about providing support and encouragement for all women who want to and can breastfeed. And while most of us know the huge benefits to breastfeeding, here’s a little reminder:
- Breastmilk contains antibodies that help fight bacteria and infections
- Breastfeeding will lower your child’s risk of allergies and asthma
- Babies who are breastfeed for six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea, and less chance of developing Type 1 Diabetes
- It lowers your baby’s risk of SIDs
- It is designed to be exactly right for your child, and changes to suit your child as they grow
- It’s cost-effective and time-saving – no paying for formula or sterilising bottles.
Recent ground-breaking research, done by Dr Catarina Svanborg, has also shown that compounds in breastmilk may hold the key to fighting over 40 types of cancer- giving new hope to sufferers and leading the way for innovation in cancer treatments. As part of a global roadshow, Dr. Catarina Svanborg presented this research for the first time in Melbourne, to over 300 medical professionals on behalf of Medela Australia.
So with the magical properties of breastmilk and the amazing benefits for both mothers and children, World Breastfeeding Weeks aims to support you in your breastfeeding journey. So when you think about it, in so many ways, breastfeeding really is the foundation of life.