Most of you may not realize that this is World Breast feeding Week (Aug.1-7), a time when the World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action (a global network of organizations including The World Health Organization and Unicef as well as individuals in 175 countries) seeks to re-establish a global breastfeeding culture by emphasizing the nutritional and medicinal values associated with nursing. In fact, this year’s theme “Breast Feeding: A Winning Goal for Life, ” not only seeks to promote the benefits for babies, but how nursing benefits the mother’s health as well. In fact, World Breast Feeding Week has been celebrated across the globe every August since 1992.
According to recent studies, breast feeding is believed to “reset changes to a woman’s metabolism caused by pregnancy as her body works to support the nutritional needs of her fetus.” In addition, researchers have suggested that a “failure to breastfeed may be associated with an increased incidence of pre-menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and the metabolic syndrome,” although additional studies are needed to validate this.
Although once the norm, the WABA points out that breastfeeding has declined worldwide in recent years, due in part to “urbanization, as well as the commercialization and marketing of infant milk formula and more and more women working outside the home. Not only is this true here in the US and Europe, but in India as well, the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India has been working with the Indian Academy of Pediatrics has been working since 1991 to encourage more women to nurse by following international guidelines such as “breast feeding exclusively for 6 months followed by sequential addition of semi-solid and solid foods to complement (not replace) breast milk until the infant child is gradually able to eat normal family food which is around one year of age.”