The 20th World Breastfeeding Week is almost upon us – the first week of August every year. Each year there is a different theme and this year is Understanding the Past, Planning the Future. 20 years ago, WABA launched the first World Breastfeeding Week with the theme Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Has a lot happened in the last 20 years? What should we do in the next 20 years? Some believe that we should just be quiet and stop going on about it.
In 2005, Women’s Health Action in New Zealand organised the first Big Latch On as part of World Breastfeeding Week. Each year the numbers of women breastfeeding at the event has grown, helping to increase awareness and support for women breastfeeding outside their home. We too often hear new mothers worrying about whether or not they will get asked to leave somewhere simply for breastfeeding their baby. Human milk is made for human babies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies receive only breastmilk for around the first six months of their lives and that breastmilk should then be continued alongside other foods for 2 years or beyond. Surely no one expects a mother to only feed her baby within her own home for 2 years or more? But perhaps the people who disagree with breastfeeding in public also disagree with the WHO recommendations…
Of course, breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine too. It’s all about making informed choices – they key word being INFORMED. Being informed about choices means knowing both sides of the story, having enough information about the whole picture before making a decision.
I wonder, is there more information available now, to help people decide whether or not to breastfeed, than there was 20 years ago? Is the information easy to find, complete, unbiased, presented in a way that is easy for all audiences to understand? Have things changed for the better or worse in the last 20 years, or is it just different? What needs to happen next? What do you think?
Either way, look out for the Big Latch On in your area. Maybe you will learn something new 🙂