August 1st to 7th marks World Breastfeeding Week, and a 10-step checklist has been sent to hospitals in over 150 countries to ensure adequate maternity support for breastfeeding.
Nowadays, when I ask my patients during their antenatal consultation whether or not they will be breastfeeding, all of them give an enthusiastic YES. But perhaps after giving birth, not enough milk is produced, or the infant doesn’t latch on properly, and/ or the mother gets frustrated with the process.
“It is estimated that around 35% of infants aged 0 to 6 months are exclusively breastfed in the world today,” says Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Development. “But if all babies and young children were breastfed exclusively for their first six months of life and then given nutritious complementary food with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age, the lives of an additional 1.5 million children under five would be saved every year.”
Commercial infant formulas are commonly perceived to be the recommended infant food after breastfeeding, but the World Health Organization states: “The second choice is the mother’s own milk expressed and given to the infant in some way. The third choice is the milk of another human mother. The fourth and last choice is artificial baby milk.”
So for all you mommies and mommies-to-be out there, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant today if you require help with breastfeeding. There is no food better for infants than human breast milk!