August 1 marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week.
World Breastfeeding Week is about educating and encouraging mothers to breastfeed their young for a period of 6-months without water, it is celebrated for seven days, from the first to the seventh of August each year.
This year’s World Breastfeeding Weeks theme for the week is “Empower Parent, Enable Breastfeeding.”
The celebration started in August 1990 when the Innocenti Declaration was signed by Government policy makers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to support, promote and protect breastfeeding.
The week long celebration is held to promote awareness around the health benefits of breastfeeding infants for the first six months of their lives.
Breastfeeding infants for their first six months exclusively is important for the following reasons; breast milk contains antibodies that help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria, it also lowers the risk of asthma or allergies in babies.
Babies that are breastfed exclusively for the first six months without any formula have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhoea.
As important as it might seem for the infant it is also important for the nursing mother as it helps decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert twenty thousand (20,000) maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer.