World Breastfeeding Week 2021: What’s happening?
From the event’s history, to this year’s theme and ways you can get involved, here’s everything you need to know about World Breastfeeding Week 2021.
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This World Breastfeeding Week, join us on a whistle-stop tour around the world to meet some of the amazing women who are now breastfeeding with our support. From mums in Liberia to Kenya, here are their stories.
Diamond, 21, is breastfeeding her youngest daughter, one-month-old Patience, while she stays with her mum Naomi in Wrobone village, Liberia. She’ll be here with Patience for her first few months of life so Naomi can help support her.
Diamond says, "My mum taught me to only give my child breastmilk for the first six months. She also instructed me to wash my hands before feeding her, for me to drink sufficient water beforehand and to eat an extra bowl of food for myself every day. Mum’s help is good. I accept what she tells me."
While she stays, Diamond has been attending weekly Mothers’ Group gatherings inside the small tin-roof community hall in the village. Here, a lady called Korpo Jallah and her Concern colleague Ousmah give lessons on prenatal maternal health, exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding and gender inequalities. They also organise cookery demonstrations on how to prepare nutritious meals with vegetables and locally available fruit, like papaya, banana and pineapple.
Korpo leads Diamond and the rest of the group in a song which they have repeated many times about the importance of breastfeeding. Healthy baby, shiny baby, clever baby! The group rise to their feet and lift their voices in joyful chorus. It’s a learning tool and a light-hearted way to drive home a serious message.
Tesso, 35, lives in Marsabit, Kenya with her five children. Two-month-old Abudo is the youngest, but he’s the first child who was born with the help of a Concern-trained Community Birth Attendant, Fatuma. Tesso reflects how different this pregnancy was, saying, “This time, I am getting support. I learnt a lot from Fatuma. Things like positioning and attachment for breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding. The most important thing is the support Fatuma gave me.”
Fatuma first became a Concern Community Birth Attendant ten years ago and tells us, “My favourite thing is that I can help mothers. The hardest part is that sometimes I help a mum who is far from a health facility, or we don’t have access to water. That is a challenge.”
Even though Tesso has now given birth, Tesso and Fatuma still work together. “The baby has brought us together,” Fatuma says. “I help to look after the baby while she fetches water. We are friends now.”
“I used to feed my son John with dried formula milk. People in the village told me that, because his father was not from here, I should give him imported milk,” Naomi tells us.
“But then I saw John was getting worse. He was thin and malnourished. I began to visit the Concern Mothers’ Group – they told me to only give him breastmilk and that is what I did.
Now John is four months old, healthy and full of life. I learned from the group that when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need an extra bowl of food. I have also learned about good hygiene and using soap to wash before eating and after using the toilet. The advice and help I have received from Concern makes me happy.”
Concern has been training community members in Liberia to give lessons to new mothers like Naomi on prenatal maternal health, feeding, hygiene and preparing nutritious meals.
Breastfeeding can be hugely beneficial for the health, wellbeing and survival of both babies and mothers. In fact, it’s estimated that increasing breastfeeding could prevent 823,000 child deaths annually and avert 20,000 maternal deaths each year.
Concern respects the choice every mother makes: whether to breastfeed, whether to do so in combination with formula feeding, and how long to breastfeed for. We know these decisions are all influenced by the unique circumstances surrounding a mother and her baby.
But in the world’s poorest places, the risks associated with not breastfeeding are significantly higher. Contamination of artificial milk or formulas due to unclean water and poor hygiene conditions can quickly lead to malnutrition, illness and death in young children. This makes promoting breastfeeding – as a hygienic and potentially life-saving intervention - even more critical in all 23 of the countries we work in.
Across each country, we work with local communities and government health staff, in line with national breastfeeding policies, to ensure that mums are educated about the benefits of breastfeeding, taught the right techniques and feel supported by their husbands and families.
With more mothers like Naomi, Diamond and Tesso choosing to breastfeed, we’re proud to be giving them the support, encouragement and education they need to do it successfully – all with the help of people like you.