I came across many comments last week that clearly showed a significant lack of knowledge and understanding about what World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about. It challenged me to review what I know, and find out more.
So, what is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)?
WBW is the global breastfeeding awareness week that commemorates the Innocenti Declaration (1990 and 2005), with a yearly focus to help tackle key breastfeeding issues. It is organised and managed by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and it started in 1992. WABA is “a global network of organisations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right.”
WABA and WBW draw attention to key issues that affect breastfeeding internationally; underpinned by key infant feeding documents like:
And with reference to other key breastfeeding protection documents like:
- WHO’s International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes
- UNICEF’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
If you want to know more about WABA’s work, these documents and others are worth checking out.
WBW significantly contributes to WABA’s vision of working towards
“a world where breastfeeding is the cultural norm, where mothers and families are enabled to feed and care optimally for their infants and young children thus contributing to a just and healthy society.”
What is World Breastfeeding Week about?
It is about equality, equity, and justice for all infants and young children, no matter the financial / social status of their parents, or the economic development of their country.
It is about working towards reducing the poverty gap from the start of life, through access to optimal infant and toddler feeding.
It is about securing the rights of parents to accurate infant feeding information that is free of commercial interests.
It is about local and national advocacy for mothers and their families to receive enough support, at the right time, to optimally feed their infants and toddlers, from their first hour of birth.
It is about empowering mothers to have confidence in their ability to continue nurturing their children in the normal and best way possible, post birth.
It is about providing breastfeeding education to health professionals and families, free from undermining commercial interests.
It is about contributing to the protection of maternal and infant health in all circumstances, through minimising the exploitation of commercial interests, during a very vulnerable time.
It is about encouraging governments to stand up for women and children, through making laws to enable all children to have the best start in life, through optimal nutrition, and so much more.
It is about highlighting the risks of artificial feeding (food and utensils), and the truth about commercially produced weaning food amidst the aggressive profiteering of the unscrupulous tendencies of the infant / toddler food industry.
It is about challenging the poor marketing practices of the profit-making infant food industry and curbing their exploitative ways.
It is about holding the infant food industry accountable for the production of safe breastfeeding substitutes and delivery systems, and ensuring that parents have accurate information about their use.
It is about supporting mothers to make informed decisions about the best way to feed their children, through access to accurate infant feeding information; in order to breastfeed optimally and for as long as possible, and when needed, to bottle-feed safely and as best as possible.
It is about deconstructing anti-breastfeeding societal norms, and untangling age-old infant feeding myths, to help create a culture where breastfeeding thrives without restriction … where breastfeeding for as long as one wants, and wherever one’s baby needs feeding, is not unusual … where breastfeeding works with women’s work commitments.
It is about the well-being of infants and young children, their mothers and families, and indeed overall public health; as well as environmental sustainability, the economy, and more.
What is World Breastfeeding Week not about?
It is not about making anyone feel good or bad, arrogant or guilty.
It is not a word wrestling arena for breastfeeding and formula feeding mums … definitely not about the ego of ‘badass’ breastfeeders and ‘fearless’ or ‘defensive’ formula feeders, or gentle breastfeeders and reluctant formula feeders.
It is not a marketing opportunity to be exploited by the multi-billion dollars infant food industry to mask their underlying undermining of breastfeeding under the guise of ‘breastfeeding support’.
I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, the lower the breastfeeding rate and the more unsure parents are about weaning, the more profit for the infant food industry to make.
It is not a time for generic clichés that sweep key infant feeding issues and uncomfortable realities under the carpet.
It is not a time to wallow in negative past infant / toddler feeding experiences, or one to repeat recycled ‘comfortable’ inaccurate information, in comments and through memes.
It’s neither the time for ‘what about me’ pity parties and the misconstruing of facts for attacks, and information for judgement; nor the time for using facts to attack and information to judge.
Let’s get this straight, WBW is not personal or exclusive; all forms of infant and toddler feeding will be worse off without the efforts of WABA and others; thanks to the erosion and aggression of commercial interests.
I also don’t think it’s the time to publish and share half-baked articles with click-bait headlines that divert attention from the goals of this Week. Seriously, there are 51 other weeks available for these, if they must be.
I could go on and on about what World Breastfeeding Week is and isn’t about …
So, simply put …
World Breastfeeding Week is about the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding. Yes, it is about breastfeeding awareness; which not surprisingly gets breastfeeding mothers in all their variety, into a celebratory mood. It is about respecting human rights, and creating an equitable and healthy society for all.
It is not about breastfeeding undermining comments and tactics, or the side-lining of the users of artificial milk. It is about saving the lives of babies and toddlers around the world, and creating a supportive environment for all mums to make informed decisions about how they will feed their infants, free from subtle and obvious commercial ploys.
So, as we react to World Breastfeeding Week, let’s make sure that we know what exactly we are responding to. Otherwise, anger, annoyance, frustration, time-wasting, and other such negative feelings will rob us of getting the most out of it.
And if World Breastfeeding Week, isn’t your thing … not reflective of your experience or beliefs … fine, ignore it … scroll past it … don’t comment on it … don’t give it a second thought.
I know this topic is bigger than what I’ve written … I definitely have more to write about it.
What did you think of World Breastfeeding Week?
Answer this question as one of your entries into one of my Breastfeeding Awareness Month’s giveaway – Win an Emma-Jane Next Generation Maternity and Nursing bra (Wed 10 Aug 16 – Sun 21 Aug 16)
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