Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week
Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot helps to re-establish a global breastfeeding culture
By: Molly Mello, R.N.C., International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot
The first World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated in 1992 with 70 countries taking part. The concept of World Breastfeeding Week originated in the basement of the UNICEF office in 1991. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, World Health Organization and UNICEF realized that women deserved to be able to feed their infants without fear of discrimination or stigma.
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasize the value of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. They recommend continued breastfeeding with the addition of solid foods at six months of age for up to two years.
Today, people are realizing more and more that food has a direct impact on their health, and research has shown us the health benefits for a woman and her baby when she chooses to breastfeed. Because of the research available to the public, breastfeeding is steadily on the rise.
The staff at Magee-Womens Hospital at UPMC Hamot recognize the need for breastfeeding support within the community. There has been a four percent rise in our breastfeeding rates in the last three years. While breastfeeding is a naturally occurring process, it isn't always easy. Sometimes roadblocks can hinder successful breastfeeding. It is our job to recognize when things are not going smoothly and take the steps needed to maximize and maintain a mother's milk production while meeting everyone's needs.
At Magee-Womens we focus on helping new mothers reach their goals while providing safe, evidence-based care. Currently we are staffed with two full-time IBCLCs and one part-time IBCLC for outpatient care.
Human breast milk is the optimal food source for human babies. Breast milk production is a naturally occurring process that begins after a woman gives birth. Breast milk provides babies their first protection from disease because of the antibodies it contains. It also provides good bacteria for the baby's gut that help prevent harmful bacteria from lining it.
It is perfectly matched for each stage of life and development for the infant. Women who breastfeed also see a decrease in postpartum hemorrhage, a decrease in postpartum depression, and a faster rate of obtaining a pre-pregnancy weight. These are just a few of the benefits a woman can expect to see. Employers also see a decrease in time off for mothers of sick children because breastfeeding helps a child fight off infection by transferring antibodies from the mother to the child through the breast milk.
The goal of World Breastfeeding Week was to re-establish a global breastfeeding culture, one where women who are breastfeeding receive support both in the workplace and in the public setting. This year more than 120 countries will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7. The staff at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot are proud to be celebrating with them.
For more information on World Breastfeeding Week, visit the World Health Organization website at who.int