It takes a village to raise a child. Parents face a multitude of challenges in providing the best care for their child, during the antenatal, labour and delivery, as well as postnatal periods. Ongoing care for the child is also vital in ensuring both mothers and babies are properly supported. Supporting breastfeeding involves many actors at different levels. Women need support from the health service, workplace and community to optimally breastfeed, progressing from one level to the other. This is called the Warm Chain of Support for Breastfeeding.
Every year, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) coordinates the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) – a global campaign that aims to inform, anchor, engage and galvanise action on breastfeeding and related issues. Although progress has been achieved, the work to protect, promote and support breastfeeding became more of a challenge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts, which widened and deepened inequalities, tipping more people into food insecurity. In addition, limitations to the health system’s capacity led to deterioration of breastfeeding support, and targeted outreach by the breastmilk substitutes (BMS) industry continues to negatively influence parents’ infant feeding decisions.
A call to step up for breastfeeding
Against this background, the focus of World Breastfeeding Week this year (#WBW2022) is on education and support, so that we can all step up for breastfeeding! Governments, healthcare actors, community actors and society at large must advocate to normalise breastfeeding and create breastfeeding-friendly environments. The WBW2022 campaign reminds us that we all have a role to play in the education and transformation of existing systems, underpinned by evidence-based national policies to create breastfeeding-friendly health facilities, supportive communities and workplaces. Let’s step up for breastfeeding!
Governments, healthcare actors, community actors and society at large must advocate to normalise breastfeeding and create breastfeeding-friendly environments.
The #WBW2022 campaign explores challenges and support needed for breastfeeding during pregnancy and before birth (antenatal stage), labour and delivery, first six weeks after birth (postnatal care), ongoing care and in special circumstances and emergencies. The materials also discuss the important roles played by two categories of actors – healthcare and community – in stepping up for breastfeeding through education and support.
Healthcare actors including counsellors, lactation consultants, midwives and doctors play an essential role in the support of breastfeeding and for this they need a consistent and appropriate evidence-based education. This also includes Code training and awareness of cultural beliefs and practices. Community actors such as employers, environmentalists, partners, the media and young people play an important role in supporting national and international advocacy and programmes to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. By working collaboratively, all actors can close the gaps in breastfeeding support. This collaborative action works to strengthen the Warm Chain of support for breastfeeding.
You can find out more information on this year’s World Breastfeeding Week campaign here.