Health authority marks World Breastfeeding Week

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The purpose of World Breastfeeding Week is to create public awareness around the importance and support of breastfeeding. This year’s theme is fitting as the district is working toward a culture that is supportive of breastfeeding.

Kim Shebib

Why are we celebrating World Breastfeeding Week?

Breastfeeding support is important for a successful breastfeeding experience. In the early days and weeks after delivery, there is often a sudden decline in breastfeeding rates even after the mother was off to a good start. Continued support to sustain breastfeeding is needed and can be given in a variety of ways.

Support can come from trained health-care workers, lactation consultants, community leaders, friends, family, partners and from other breastfeeding mothers (WABA, 2013). Businesses and municipalities can help support breastfeeding by having breastfeeding policies and making sure employees know about the Nova Scotia Breastfeeding Human Rights Act. This act supports breastfeeding anytime, anywhere.

Public Health Services has a tool kit available for local businesses to explain how to become breastfeeding friendly.  

The World Health Organization and Health Canada recommends exclusive breastfeeding (only breast milk) for the first six months of life, the introduction of local, nutrient rich complementary foods thereafter, and continued breastfeeding until two years of age and beyond.

Years of research show that breastfeeding helps protect infants against many illnesses and diseases such as allergies, ear infections, respiratory infections and gastrointestinal illness. These benefits do not stop at infancy. Breast milk is known to protect children against diabetes and certain childhood cancers. These benefits carry on into adulthood as research is starting to show less cardiovascular disease and obesity in adults that were breastfed.

During World Breastfeeding Week, the district’s baby friendly committee is organizing a quintessence breastfeeding challenge.

The challenge is to have the most babies being breastfed at the same time. Countries all across the world will be involved.

In addition to the challenge, a five-kilometre stroller-friendly family fun walk/run will be held to promote and increase the awareness of breastfeeding. The walk/run is open to anyone who wants to support breastfeeding in the community.

Both events are free and will be held Saturday, Oct. 5 at the round room in the Civic Centre on Sydney’s boardwalk.

Registration for the run begins at 8 a.m. and the run starts at 9 a.m. The quintessence challenge registration for breastfeeding moms begins at 10:30 a.m.

Last year there was a great turnout for both events and we hope to see even more participating this year.

World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration that was launched in 1992 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. The alliance is a global network of organizations and individuals who believe that breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers. The goal of the alliance is to re-establish a global breastfeeding culture.

 

 

Kim Shebib is a public health nurse and lactation consultant with the Cape Breton District Health Authority. She can be reached at kim.shebib@cbdha.nshealth.ca or by phone at 736-7957. This column is part of a locally written series on population health, which looks at factors like income, education, social support, housing etc., that influence the health of a community.

Organizations: Health Services, World Health Organization, Health Canada Civic Centre World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action Cape Breton District Health Authority

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Sydney

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