Prosperity Life

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in the first week of August to mark the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration. However, some countries choose to celebrate it at different times of the year. This year there will be a focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society. These actors make up the warm chain of support for breastfeeding. There are specific target audiences, these include: governments, health systems, workplaces and communities. They will be informed, educated and empowered to strengthen their capacity to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for families in the post-pandemic world. Visit for details on themes and how to get involved!

Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers & babies

Breastfeeding is when you feed your baby breast milk, usually directly from your breast. It’s also called nursing. However, mum can also “express” the milk into a bottle if the baby has trouble latching on or if she has to work. 

Many medical experts, recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. Even after introduction of other foods it is recommended that mum breastfeed for the whole first year of baby’s life. 

Benefits for baby:

  • Provides ideal nutrition – has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, proteins and fat.
  • Is easier to digest than formula.
  • Contains antibodies that help fight off bacteria and viruses.
  • Lowers risk of having asthma or allergies
  • Fewer infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea.
  • The closeness (skin to skin contact and eye contact) also helps mum and baby bond and helps baby feels secure.
  • According to the AAP it also plays a role in preventing SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.

Benefits for mum:

  • Promotes weight loss after birth – burning about 50 extra calories per day to build and maintain a milk supply.
  • Helps stimulate the uterus to contract and return to normal size.
  • Less postpartum bleeding
  • Fewer urinary tract infections, less chance of anemia, and postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding produces the naturally soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin that promote stress reduction and positive feelings in the nursing mother.
  • Increased calmness. Breastfed babies cry less overall, and have fewer incidences of childhood illness. Breastfeeding can support the wellness of body, mind, and spirit for the whole family.
  • Breastfeeding makes travel easier. Breast milk is always clean and the right temperature.
  • Breastfeeding mothers learn to read their infant’s cues and babies learn to trust caregivers. This helps shape the infant’s early behavior.

Breastfeeding and COVID-19

“Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life” –  WHO.

The WHO recommends that breastfeeding should continue or be initiated whether the mother or child have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or not. The benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks for transmission. Mother and infant should remain together and still practice skin-to-skin contact (including kangaroo care). This is especially important immediately after birth and during the establishment of breastfeeding.

What are the risks of breastfeeding?

associated with breastfeeding. For example, certain foods (caffeine, alcohol) and medications can make their way to the milk and harm the infant:

AmiodaroneMay affect thyroid function of the infant
AntineoplasticsLeukopenia, bone marrow suppression
Gold saltsRash, nephritis, haematological abnormalities 
IodineHigh doses lead to a risk of infant hypothyroidism
LithiumBreastfeeding is only feasible with rigorous monitoring
Retinoids (oral)Potential for serious adverse effects

There is also the issue of being HIV positive. An HIV positive mother may pass on the virus to the child through breastmilk. Although, the risk is much reduced if the mother is put on a regime of ARVs. If you are HIV positive and pregnant or have an infant, you must immediately speak to your health care provider.


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