To this end, WABA, together with health organizations and institutions around the world, makes available several informative materials to reinforce the importance of breast milk as exclusive food up to 6 months, and can extend to two years or more of the child.
This week focuses on child survival and protection , as breast milk is the best food for them.
It is estimated that annually, worldwide, more than 10 million children under the age of 5 die from diseases that can be prevented and treated.
With better breastfeeding rates worldwide, more than 820,000 children within this age group can be saved.
For this reason, breastfeeding up to six months of age needs to be encouraged by campaigns such as SMAM. In addition to contributing to child development, breastfeeding can also have an impact on the child’s adult life.
A study published by The Lancet Global Health magazine, based on the follow-up of around 3,500 newborns over thirty years, identified that there are links between childhood breastfeeding and intelligence levels in adulthood. .
According to the research, the longer the newborn’s breastfeeding period, the greater the results on IQ tests as adults.
Consequently, the researchers assessed the relationships between the levels of intelligence also reflecting on the education and financial income of these people.
Objectives of SMAM
In 2018, four goals were established by WABA for World Breastfeeding Week, with the following proposals:
The idea of SMAM as a whole is to promote information about the benefits of breast milk. Within the objectives, this proposal is also reinforced.
In this year’s actions, the materials distributed should focus on how breast milk is directly linked to good nutrition, discuss how safe it is for babies and how breastfeeding affects poverty reduction.
Inform all people, mothers, parents and society in general, that gender equity is very important for breastfeeding to be stimulated.
The goal is to have breastfeeding as part of a nutritional, food security and poverty reduction agenda.
Reinforce, fix the idea that values that strengthen the act of breastfeeding should circulate in society.
Create greater communication with people and organizations working on issues related to the spread of information on breastfeeding.
The cooperation and participation of all is essential. Therefore, involving people and organizations in the campaign is essential.
Make these actions capable of promoting breastfeeding as a form of nutrition, food security and as a tool to reduce inequalities.
Always reinforce that equal access between women and men to social and human rights is a way of strengthening the action of breastfeeding and disseminating the benefits.
World Breastfeeding Week began in 1991 in New York, at a meeting between NGOs organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The meeting was held to accompany the emergence of the Innocenti Declaration and to think of a strategy on a global scale to promote the importance of breastfeeding.
Before the signing of this document, Breastfeeding Week was already within WHO’s concerns. In 1948, the organization was already promoting actions to try to reduce the infant mortality rate through the valorization of breastfeeding.
The idea, first, was to have a day dedicated to the theme. Subsequently, it became a week.
Since 1999, the Ministry of Health has been coordinating the Breastfeeding Week in Brazil. Annually, the body is responsible for adapting the theme defined by Waba and subsequently for preparing informative materials for distribution, such as posters and folders.
SMAM’s action is supported by other international bodies, State and Municipal Health Departments, the Brazilian Network of Milk Banks, hospitals and Non-Governmental Organizations
What is the Innocenti Declaration?
The document called the Declaration of Innocenti emerged from the meeting between WHO and UNICEF in 1990. In it, some objectives were outlined and passed on to governmental and non-governmental organizations in several countries, including Brazil.
There are four operational objectives that aim to reduce the number of child mortality, with the premise of promoting survival, protecting child development.
The 4 goals established by the document are as follows
- Establish a national committee to coordinate actions aimed at breastfeeding;
- Implement the “10 steps to successful breastfeeding” in all maternity hospitals;
- Execute the International Code for the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and all resolutions proposed by the World Health Assembly;
- Adopt legislation that promotes the protection of women while breastfeeding at work.
10 steps to successful breastfeeding
From the Innocenti Declaration, 10 steps were born that must be followed so that the woman and the baby can benefit from breastfeeding. This list sets out some objectives and duties to be fulfilled by hospitals and government organizations:
- Have a written rule on breastfeeding and routinely pass on this information to all hospital service staff;
- Promote training for the entire team, so that they are qualified to implement the standard;
- Bring information to all pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding and how it should be done;
- Assist mothers to start breastfeeding within the first half hour after delivery;
- Even in cases where mothers are separated from their children, show them how to maintain breastfeeding and lactation;
- Give the baby only breast milk as food. Other foods or drinks should only be made when there is a specific medical indication;
- Allow and promote that mothers and babies stay together 24 hours a day (rooming-in);
- Encourage women to breastfeed on demand, that is, without defined schedules;
- Do not give artificial nipples or pacifiers to breastfed children;
- Encourage women to seek breastfeeding support groups.
Until 2016, only a week in August was set aside to raise this awareness campaign on breastfeeding, but in 2017 that changed.
The National Congress signed a law that stipulates that August should be considered the month of breastfeeding.
The gold, which was already present in different ways in the campaigns, is now next to the month.
Thus, throughout the month, public buildings should be illuminated with the golden color, which symbolizes the color of breastfeeding. The color signals what the food represents when comparing it to gold.
For the World Health Organization, breast milk is classified as the golden food for children’s health.
SMAM 2019 Theme
In 2019, the World Breastfeeding Week campaign adopted the slogan “Empowering mothers and fathers, favoring breastfeeding. Today and for the future! ”.
Aiming to mobilize and alert mothers and fathers to the importance of breastfeeding, the campaign to involve all people – besides the mothers themselves – in the fundamental process of breastfeeding.
That’s because it goes far beyond nutrition and offering milk to the child. In addition to the well-known benefits of breastfeeding, such as strengthening immunity and preventing diseases, family emotional bonds are strengthened, even among people who do not participate directly in the act.
Parents and family members can contribute to the creation of a welcoming environment for the mother, as well as encourage and promote her well-being.
The material released in 2019 is a rich and complete guide that seeks to involve the whole of society. This means that the campaign aims above all to reinforce the idea that everyone can and should support breastfeeding and work towards a more equal society.
Thus, the campaign offers indications of how to disseminate the actions, publicize in public and repercussion media, implement improvements and promote changes in the collective sphere.
Likewise, defenders and people directly linked to the actions can encourage and initiate actions that reinforce the campaign and the actions. Unions, spaces in the media and initiatives discussed with official entities are possible actions.
For families, the focus is on finding information with health professionals and engagement on behalf of the mother. Thus, although breastfeeding is a direct act between the woman and the child, everyone can provide support and build a more comfortable environment for the mother.
Breastfeeding Week, each year, chooses a central theme specific to the campaign.
This theme is defined annually by the WABA, but as an act carried out in more than 120 countries, it may undergo some variations in some of them.
Check below what were the themes in Brazil, from 1992 to the current year:
- 1992 : Child-Friendly Hospitals;
- 1993 : Breastfeeding: Women’s right at work;
- 1994 : Breastfeeding: Making the code work;
- 1995 : Breastfeeding: Strengthens women;
- 1996 : Breastfeeding: Everyone’s responsibility;
- 1997 : Breastfeeding: An ecological act;
- 1998 : Breastfeeding: The best investment;
- 1999 : Breastfeeding: Educating for life;
- 2000 : Breastfeeding: It is a human right;
- 2001 : Breastfeeding: In the information age;
- 2002 : Breastfeeding: Healthy mothers, healthy babies;
- 2003 : Breastfeeding: Bringing peace to a globalized world;
- 2004 : Exclusive breastfeeding: Satisfaction, security, smiles;
- 2005 : Breastfeeding and introduction of new foods from 06 months of life;
- 2006 : Breastfeeding: Ensuring this right is everyone’s duty;
- 2007 : Breastfeeding in the first hour, protection without delay;
- 2008 : Breastfeeding: Participate and support women;
- 2009 : Breastfeeding at all times: more affection, health and protection;
- 2010 : Breastfeeding is much more than feeding the child. It is an important step towards a healthier life;
- 2011 : Breastfeeding is good for you and the baby;
- 2012 : Breastfeeding today is thinking about the future;
- 2013 : As important as breastfeeding your baby is having someone to listen to you;
- 2014 : Breastfeeding: a victory for life;
- 2015 : Breastfeeding and work: to be successful, everyone is committed;
- 2016 : Healthy present, sustainable future;
- 2017 : Protect breastfeeding: building alliances without conflicts of interest;
- 2018 : Breastfeeding: the basis of life.
Why is breast milk important for the baby?
Breast milk is considered a gold standard food and this is not in vain. It is the only food rich enough to nourish the baby for at least 6 months of life. It has everything needed for your child’s health, including water.
Its nutrients guarantee good nutrition for the child during the first 2 years of life.
Because it has great immunological action, it protects the child from respiratory infections, diarrhea , allergies and other diseases.
In the long run, breast milk is associated with a lower risk of developing diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes , hypertension and obesity .
Knowing this, we realize the importance of campaigns that disseminate information about how much breastfeeding is essential in the child’s development, since he is able to reduce by 13% the number of infant mortality within the child’s first 5 years of life.
The composition of breast milk, for this, undergoes some transformations. These changes reflect the baby’s need.
For example, during the beginning of the feeding, the baby receives milk with a waterier aspect. This milk is responsible for keeping the newborn hydrated.
When the milk is thicker, the baby actually receives a food, as it contains more fat and will be essential for its healthy growth.
This composition is divided into three types and are according to the time of breastfeeding:
Colostrum is the first breast milk after delivery. It contains a thicker and more yellowish appearance. It is rich in proteins , antibodies, vitamins , lactose and minerals.
It is so important for the baby that it is considered the first vaccine for the newborn. It protects the child from infections, helps with digestion and cleanses the baby’s digestive system.
The lactating mother produces between 3mL to 5mL per feed, corresponding to the baby’s gastric capacity in its first days of life. Colostrum is produced for 5 to 7 days after delivery.
After colostrum, the pregnant woman starts to produce the transition milk. This milk happens between the first two weeks after the baby is born.
The color of this milk, different from the yellow of colostrum, becomes more whitish and there is a significant increase in volume.
The composition of the transition milk is richer in calories, as it has a greater amount of fats, lactose and vitamins.
The volume of production of the transition milk, in some cases, is so much that it can cause engorgement, where the mother’s breasts are full and hard, and mastitis, an infection that can happen when the breasts are not emptied frequently.
Although this abundant milk production is very positive, the woman needs to take some precautions so that she does not suffer from engorgement and mastitis.
An option for breastfeeding women who produce milk in large quantities is the donation to breast milk banks , which are treated and passed on to babies in situations that cannot receive milk from their own mothers for various reasons.
After two weeks of delivery, breast milk is considered to be mature milk. Unlike transitional milk, milk production is more controlled. At that moment, production is regularized due to the baby’s needs.
For this reason, some women may believe that their milk is diminishing or drying out, but that is not the case. It is natural for mature milk to be produced in less quantity than transitional milk.
In the same way in the other phases, this milk is rich in nutrients essential for the child’s health.
Benefits of breastfeeding for women’s health
Breast milk positively interferes with the life of the mother and baby. There are several benefits that this food provides. Find out what are the interferences in women’s health:
Helps prevent breast cancer
Breastfeeding is considered a form of prevention against breast cancer . Estimates show that the risk for women who breastfed is 22% lower than for women who have never breastfed.
The percentage is gradual according to the time of breastfeeding, being 7% for women who breastfed for 6 months, 9% for those who breastfed for 6 to 12 months and 26% for those who breastfed for more than 12 months.
In addition, the numbers are also interesting with regard to the survival of women who had breast cancer but who breastfed.
The study with these women showed that the risk of death for women who had undergone breast cancer surgery and who never breastfed, or who breastfed for 6 months or less, is 3 times higher than for those who breastfed for superior time.
Research shows that encouraging breastfeeding represents the prevention of more than 20 thousand deaths from breast cancer.
Decreases the risk of ovarian cancer
Studies with patients with ovarian cancer have shown that it is possible to reduce the chances of the disease by up to 30% when breastfeeding is maintained for longer.
Helps protect against endometrial carcinoma
As with breast and ovarian cancer, the chances of women who breastfed to develop endometrial cancer are lower than the chances of women who never breastfed. With breastfeeding, the risk decreases by 11% for these women.
Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a common chronic disease and, according to some research, the chances are lower in breastfeeding women, where the risk drops by 32%.
Breastfeeding can contribute to the reduction of migraines after childbirth in many women. Cases accompanied by women who have these severe headaches before childbirth, had a decrease in occurrence after breastfeeding.
Frequently asked questions about breastfeeding
Some doubts and myths arise when it comes to breastfeeding. Know some frequently asked questions on the topic:
Is it forbidden to breastfeed in public?
No . Nowhere in Brazil is breastfeeding in public a crime, so the practice should not be banned or blamed.
Despite belonging to a natural process of motherhood, breastfeeding when carried out in public places divides opinions, often being criticized.
However, breastfeeding is a woman’s and baby’s right. The decision to breastfeed in public or not is up to the woman alone.
For this to be possible, women need to feel comfortable and safe, as breastfeeding is a child’s need.
It can be useful for mothers who are uncomfortable with exposure to use blankets or towels to cover their laps, ensuring a little more privacy. For the people around, respect for the moment and empathy remains.
Is there an ideal time for each breastfeeding?
No, the time of a feeding is done by the baby. He must suckle until he is satisfied. It is important to realize if she is ingesting the milk that contains more fat, as this is what will leave you full.
The signs that the baby is satisfied are given spontaneously, when, for example, he releases the breast or ends up falling asleep in the mother’s lap.
Should the breastfeeder offer both breasts to the baby during breastfeeding?
There is no rule. While the mother is breastfeeding, she will notice when the baby is satisfied and stop, or, if she finds that she is not yet satiated, switch to another breast. It is a natural process and is gradually being shaped.
Can women with excess milk breastfeed other babies?
No, this practice is not recommended . This breastfeeding called cross-breastfeeding is considered a risk to the health of babies and women, as many microorganisms can be transmitted, including HIV .
The healthiest option for women who produce a lot of milk is the donation to Human Milk Banks. In addition to being a safe procedure, this gesture will help save other lives.
Is there weak milk?
No. This is a myth about breastfeeding. It may happen, during the transition of the milk, that women suspect that it has changed or that it is weaker due to its more whitish appearance.
This is normal and does not mean that milk is less nutritious. Even malnourished women are able to produce good breast milk with everything the baby needs.
Should breastfeeding be done by appointment?
It is not necessary to make this process so rigorous. It is recommended that frequent breastfeeding be done, without a pre-established time and duration. The baby should breastfeed until he feels full and whenever he shows signs of hunger.
What to do when engorgement occurs?
Engorgement is when the mother’s breasts become more stiff due to excess milk production. When this happens, breastfeeding mothers can massage in a circular motion on the breasts and after that massage put the baby to breastfeed.
If it is too full, the woman can express a little bit of milk before breastfeeding. This helps the areola to become soft and the baby has an easier time breastfeeding.
If even after breastfeeding the baby the breasts are still full, it is recommended that the woman do the milking and store the milk, which can be donated.