World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a campaign organised by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (Waba). It is considered one of the largest joint campaigns of international organisations such as WHO and Unicef of that kind, promoting the benefits of breastfeeding. World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated annually in about 120 countries since 1991. Since 2016, WBW is also aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In most countries, WBW is celebrated every 1-7 August however some countries celebrate in May, October or November. If you want to engage more in the political campaign of the WABA, please visit their website at www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org
For the 9th time, EFCNI is actively supporting and participating in World Breastfeeding Week. Whilst EFCNI strongly supports breastfeeding and wants to help increase the number of newborns that benefit from breastmilk, it is also crucial to represent and support the most vulnerable group of newborns: preterm babies and newborns relying on intensive medical care. Preterm (and hospitalised) newborns benefit even more from breastfeeding than their term-born peers. Still, they are breastfed less. The reasons vary and over the last three years this gap has widened.
Challenges for breastfeeding women
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused a strong decline in breastfeeding rates, especially in the NICU, but has also critically changed the way we work. It has unfavourably affected pregnant women and women with children by increasing the risk of unemployment and by disrupting access to antenatal, postnatal and continuous breastfeeding support and health system services. Lessons learnt during the pandemic need to be taken into account in order to update parental social protection policies that will reflect the current situation. In addition, adequate breastfeeding facilities need to be established and maintained to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, not only at the workplace, but also in communities, health facilties, the public and particularly in critical environments like hospitals and NICUs. Governments, policymakers, health systems, workplaces, communities and parents need to be engaged to take on their important roles in empowering families and sustaining breastfeeding-friendly environments and support systems in the post-pandemic (work) life. This can be achieved by incorporating parents’s voices, perspectives and needs on breastfeeding and parenting, and how policy and legislation can support them, to ultimately adjust advocacy and supportive breastfeeding interventions.
Physiological conditions of preterm infants are an additional hurdle of breastfeeding. Preterm babies are often physically not able to be breastfed since they cannot coordinate sucking and swallowing for example or their digestive system is not mature enough yet. Another possible obstacle for mothers of preterm babies can be the lack of adequate information and support. Often they are not aware of how to provide breastmilk for their baby. Emotional pressure whether from family, society or self-induced, can be another big hurdle. Hence, it is our aim to raise awareness for the special situation mothers of preterm and hospitalised newborns find themselves in when it comes to breastfeeding. Their approach to breastfeeding might be different and they might face different challenges when it comes to breastfeeding their baby than mothers of term-born children might do. We believe that #BreastfeedingIsAJourney and every mother should be encouraged to find the best way for her and her baby.
Campaign material 2023
We invite you to download the material and use it for your own social media messaging. Please tag us @efcni and be sure to use #WorldBreastfeedingWeek2023 and #BreastfeedingIsAJourney to help us find and like your posts.
Social media graphics
We kindly invite you to take a look at a blog article (German only) on the topic of creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in everyday life, and the importance of empowering women to make informed choices.
Infographic – Do you know the benefits of breastfeeding?
Facebook & Instagram
Infographic – Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) & Breastfeeding
Social media graphic 2023 – further languages
We kindly thank our partner parent organisations for their help and support in translating our World Breastfeeding Week material.