The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s annual World Breastfeeding Week 2018 (WBW) begins today, and you can be part of this global effort to raise awareness of how breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition and ensures food security for infants and young children in poverty-stricken areas. It sounds like a daunting task, and the first question that may come to mind is “How can I possibly make a difference?” Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take, and several local and national organizations that will support your efforts.
Before we examine the “how” you can help, let’s look at the “why”. WBW is closely tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program, a global effort comprised of 17 missions including ending all forms of poverty and ensuring healthy lives for people of all ages. The WBW campaign focuses on raising awareness around how breastfeeding supports all 17 missions and is key to sustainable development. For example, did you know that:
- In low- and medium-income countries, 21% babies who were breastfed had a lower risk of death in their first year, compared with babies who were never breastfed.
- Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in global health. Every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in economic returns.
You can find these facts and much more in the many excellent documents and resources on the WBW web site.
So, first educate yourself on how breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition, is a climate-smart decision that helps ensure food security, improves the health and wellbeing of women and children and can help break the cycle of poverty. The next step is to spread that knowledge to others.
In addition to adding the #WBW2018 hashtag to your social media posts, check out the WBW’s online social media kit resource that includes facts and figures, graphics and images you can add to your posts: http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/social-media-kit/
There are a number of organizations you can join and work with year-round, such as the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABA) and the La Leche League USA, which also has hundreds of local chapters nationwide. For example, in my home state of Florida, the La Leche League of the Sunshine State has dozens of chapters from the panhandle all the way down to South Beach. Each holds regular education and support meetings, and organizes walk-a-thons and other events to raise money and awareness for their communities. To find a chapter near you, use this locator tool: https://www.lllusa.org/locator/.
You can even donate your breast milk to mothers-in-need through BreastfeedingMomsUnite, a worldwide marketplace for donating, buying and selling breast milk.
Use World Breastfeeding Week as the catalyst for your efforts to raise awareness around the many benefits of breastfeeding. To learn more about Imalac, please visit our homepage.