Friday, 21 August 2015

Breastfeeding And Work: Let’s Make It Work!

By Tabitha Naa Akuyea Addy || Right Interventions and Sustainable Community Empowerment (RISCEGHANA) ||
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The 1st to the 7th of August every year is a week set aside globally to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, a week set aside to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies across the globe. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. This year’s theme for the celebration of the week is “Breastfeeding and Work Let’s make it Work”.

Breast feeding is organized and promoted worldwide by the WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action), WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Fund) to get the goal of elite breastfeeding by mother for their baby of first six months. It was first started and celebrated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in the year 1992.World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action was established in 1991 on 14th of Feb to promote the comprehensive breastfeeding culture worldwide by providing the support and achieve the real goal.

The campaign for breastfeeding started about some 22 years ago when it was realized that many mothers due to the nature of their work, preferred to give their children substitutes and formulas rather than to give them the natural breast milk. Some mothers across the globe give various reasons why they cannot breastfeed their children. While some reserve their breast for the sake of beauty, others simply feel giving infants breast milk is simply outdated and old fashioned. They would rather give them the sophisticated baby foods that are advertised daily because they feel their work schedules do not give them adequate time to breastfeed their infants. I am no doctor but extensive research has indicated that no other formula can be a substitute for breast milk and in fact there are thousand and one reasons why mothers should choose to breastfeed their children. It saves them a whole lot of stress.

Over the years various themes have been earmarked to celebrate this week. The following are some of the themes that have caught my eyes. In 1993 the theme was “Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative (MFWI)”The theme of 1994 was “Protect Breastfeeding: Making the Code Work”. The theme of 1997 was “Breastfeeding: Nature’s Way”. The theme of 2002 was “Breastfeeding: Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies”. This year’s theme is a revisit of the theme of 1993. After 23 years of a global campaign what progress has been made? What is the way forward? What can you do in your own little way to ensure that your next door neighbor is breastfeeding rather than given other formulas?

Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Almost all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.Breast feeding has been emphasized to a great extent by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for promoting the healthy living for both the mother and the baby. It is highly recommended by them to all mothers that they should give breastfeeding to their child for the first six months of the life and after that a supplemented breastfeeding can be given for the one, two or more years.

In this article we willexplore the benefits of breastfeeding your child and why you should not miss it for anything in the world. Oh and yes the fathers also have a significant role to play in ensuring their infants are fed well to get all the required nutrients.

Did you know that breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old.

Did you know your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby? Your body responds to pathogens (virus and bacteria) that are in your body and makes secretory IgA that's specific to those pathogens, creating protection for your baby based on whatever you're exposed to.

Did you know that breastfeeding's protection against illness lasts beyond your baby's breastfeeding stage? Studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child's risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists don't know exactly how breast milk reduces the risk, but they think antibodies in breast milk may give a baby's immune system a boost.

Breastfeeding may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease. In fact, preemies given breast milk as babies are less likely to have high blood pressure by the time they're teenagers.

Did you know that breastfeeding is the natural way and is less costly than the babyfoods and thousand times healthier than any baby food?

Did you also know that breastfeeding may boost your child’s intelligence? Indeed various researchers have found a connection between breastfeeding and cognitive development. In a study of more than 17,000 infants followed from birth to 6 1/2 years, researchers concluded from IQ scores and other intelligence tests that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding significantly improves cognitive development. Another study of almost 4,000 children showed that babies who were breastfed had significantly higher scores on a vocabulary test at 5 years of age than children who were not breastfed. And the scores were higher the longer they had been nursed.

For babies who aren't breastfed, researchers have documented a link between lack of breastfeeding and later development of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Some progress has been made since the start of the breastfeeding campaign. Notably the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. However, there is still more to be desired. To ensure a sustainable progress it is very necessary the mothers get timely support and healthcare education to their baby including breast feeding. The continuous support and intimation can bring the gradual and permanent changes in the social living and ultimately healthy and disease free social living.

The fathers can help around the house to reduce stress for the new mums, they can also burp the infants after breast feeding the chest is the sweetest place to do that and also make sure their partners get enough rest. The rest of the family can provide emotional support for the children and practical help by delivering cooked meals, groceries among others to support the new mums.

The work place can provide places or a nursery for the new infants where mothers can visit their children at breaks to breastfeed them and a store where breast milk can be kept. There is the need for community-based strategies to support exclusive breastfeeding counselling for pregnant and lactating women. A peer-to-peer and group counselling to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates is ideal in the local situations.

The strategy of peer counseling can be beneficial and exceedingly productive approach to distribute the message of breast feeding campaign to a larger number of other worldwide in a less time period. The trained person of the community can be a peer counselor who can support the mothers to combat their breastfeeding questions and issues. Community leaders like queen mothers can be trained to educate and monitor new mums to encourage breastfeeding.

The government can also help by significantly limiting the marketing of breastmilk substitutes andstrengthen the monitoring, enforcement and legislation related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Government and other stakeholders can empower women to exclusively breastfeed by enactingsix-monthsmandatory paid maternity leave and policies that encourage women to breastfeed in the workplace and in public. And oh Paternity leaves can also be considered as everyone has a role to play.

The next time you decide not to breastfeed you child think of all the benefits you are throwing away. Remember we all have a responsibility to make BREASTFEEDING AND WORK, WORK!!

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