Supporting Moms and Babies This World Breastfeeding Week
Today, August 1st, marks the kickoff of World Breastfeeding Week. It’s a great time for both reflection and action by political, social, and humanitarian groups like Action Against Hunger—and indeed, by a whole lot of moms across the globe!
A lifesaving difference
According to Tamanna Ferdous, our Nutrition Coordinator in Nigeria, “Breastfeeding a baby exclusively for the first six months, and then continuing breastfeeding in addition to adding appropriate family foods until 12 months and beyond, has health benefits for both the mother and child. It can save the lives of millions of children from malnutrition.”
This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers,” highlights the importance of peer counseling. Mothers often get off to a good start breastfeeding, only to fall away from it in the weeks or months after delivering their babies. In a particular way, exclusive breastfeeding rates decline significantly. For these reasons, it’s the period of time when a new mom has left the healthcare facility where she had her baby and returned home that getting community support is critical.
Help can come from trained health workers, lactation consultants and community leaders—but sometimes the very best support comes from friends who are also mothers, as well as from husbands or partners.
“Breastfeeding a baby exclusively for the first six months, and then continuing breastfeeding in addition to adding appropriate family foods until 12 months and beyond, has health benefits for both the mother and child. It can save the lives of millions of children from malnutrition.”
—Tamanna Ferdous, Nutrition Coordinator, Action Against Hunger, Nigeria
Our Kenya & Nigeria teams leading the charge
The nutrition staff members in our missions have been hard at work planning for the week. In Kenya, our Nutrition Coordinator Joy Kiruntimi and her team organized a media breakfast and walk in Nairobi. They also arranged for speeches by key influencers on the subject, along with coverage by various TV and radio stations. In addition, they’ve distributed posters about this week’s theme and are providing positive public recognition of workplaces that support breastfeeding moms.
At more local levels around the country, Joy’s colleagues will be leading mother-to-mother support group sessions, as well as workshops on breastfeeding best practices to take place at schools, hospitals, and other community centers.
In Nigeria, Joy’s counterpart Tamanna Ferdous and her team have been collaborating with federal- and state-level Ministries of Health to coordinate World Breastfeeding Week activities. Nigeria is actually focusing on a different theme this year, “Exclusive Breastfeeding: Support the Mother, Support the Child.” Tamanna views providing messages around exclusive breastfeeding as critical to improving the health outcomes of young children in Nigeria. “Action Against Hunger is all about fighting malnutrition,” she explains. “And one of the main reasons children under age two suffer from malnutrition is poor care practices.”
To get the message out, Tamanna and team are serving on a countrywide advocacy committee for World Breastfeeding Week, supporting the national Ministry of Health by printing awareness-raising t-shirts and caps, conducting a training for Ministry staff, and participating in a media roundtable.
In the two Nigerian states where we currently work, Yobe and Jigawa, the team is organizing community dialogues, producing awareness-raising materials, and spreading the word via radio and TV interviews. They’re also supporting “baby shows,” events where moms who exclusively breastfed for six months come together (their cute little ones in tow) to share their experiences and lessons learned from breastfeeding.
We’re proud of the great work our missions are doing in this important arena, and salute them along with all the moms and babies around the world who are benefitting from breastfeeding. Share your support in the comments below!
What Do You Think?
What message of support would like to share with our Kenya and Nigeria teams for World Breastfeeding Week?