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World breastfeeding week: Supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet

Parenting By Lolita Bunde
Since breastfeeding process is a natural process, mothers play a vital role in protecting the planet (Shutterstock)

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural phenomenon shared all around the world. In line with this year’s theme, world breastfeeding week is all about supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet.

As it stands, the planet as we know it, is choking from all the plastic production and release of wastes to the environment. The baby food industry is no exception when it comes to fueling this problem. Mother Nature is in need of saving.

Breastfeeding is important because it gives your child a head start in life. It is not only beneficial to the baby but to the mother too. Breast milk provides nutrients that protects baby from diseases and infections while for the mother, breastfeeding helps with number of things including decreasing postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution.

All because breastfeeding process is a natural process, mothers play a vital role in protecting the planet, by being part of this sustainable food system.

Breastfeeding may seem easy, but not all mothers get a grip on the word go. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are calling upon governments to support women, starting with breastfeeding counselling which is a vital component to the whole process.

Women go through a number of emotional and psychological stress that could affect milk production and their health in general. Breastfeeding counselling can ensure can ensure that mothers and families receive this support, along with the information, the advice, and the reassurance they need to nourish their babies optimally.

Breastfeeding counselling can help mothers to build confidence while respecting their individual circumstances and choices. Counselling can empower women to overcome challenges and prevent feeding and care practices that may interfere with optimal breastfeeding, such as the provision of unnecessary liquids, foods, and breast milk substitutes to infants and young children.

Although approximately 80% of women breastfeed their children, not all will reach the minimum mark of one year. Exclusive breastfeeding can not only be beneficial to the baby but to the whole family. Imagine all the money you could save from buying baby foods? While saving your planet from chemical production and waste.

This is why UNICEF and WHO, in line with the policy actions advocated by the UNICEF-WHO-led Global Breastfeeding Collective, are calling on governments to:

Invest to make skilled breastfeeding counselling available to every woman. Ensuring availability of skilled breastfeeding counselling to every woman will require increased financing for breastfeeding programmes and improved monitoring and implementation of policies, programmes and services.

Train health care workers, including midwives and nurses, to deliver skilled breastfeeding counselling to mothers and families and ensure that counselling is made available as part of routine health and nutrition services that are easily accessible.

Partner and collaborate with civil society and health professional associations, building strong collaborative systems for provision of appropriate counselling and protect health care workers from the influence of the baby food industry.

Together, through commitment, concerted action and collaboration, It is possible to ensure that every mother has access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, empowering her to give her baby the best possible start in life.

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