Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2012

By Cindy Baker-Fox, RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s

August 1-7 marks the 20th annual World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), a yearly event which began in 2002, by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). World Breastfeeding Week is now recognized and celebrated in more than 170 countries worldwide. It commemorates the joint efforts of WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF in their collaboration and development of the Innocenti Declaration, a policy created to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding throughout the world. The Innocenti Declaration remains a cornerstone in guiding public and private breastfeeding policies, practices, and programs throughout every continent and most countries worldwide.

World Breastfeeding Week aims to celebrate this historic event and its ongoing impact on the health of babies and mothers around the world through breastfeeding awareness, education, and support. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week  2012 is “Understanding the Past—Planning the Future.”  It is a time to reflect on the progress made in breastfeeding promotion and education and the ongoing efforts that are still to be made.

In 2002, WABA launched the first WBW with a campaign known as the “Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative”. This campaign began a worldwide push to provide breastfeeding education, services, support, and trained lactation staff in every delivery hospital, clinic, and birthing center worldwide and to every women and newborn, despite their circumstances and resources culturally, socially, or economically. The goal was to reach every mother and newborn with proper information and skills to promote breastfeeding as a means of reducing infant mortality and morbidity worldwide.

According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2011, 136.7 million babies are born worldwide and only 32.6% of them are breastfeed exclusively in the first six months.  In July 2012, the WHO reported that, “poor breastfeeding rates contribute to over a million avoidable child deaths each year.”  Breastfeeding is a human rights issue that required the development of international policies and practices to assure adequate nutrition for every newborn.  This is truly a week to remember and celebrate.

At CHOC, we strive to support and promote breastfeeding for our patients.   CHOC’s lactation program began in 2001 with the hiring of a full time RN, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).  Since then, CHOC’s commitment to optimal nutrition for our tiny babies and at risk patients has lead to additional funding for staff to provide lactation services throughout the hospital.  The Clinical Nutrition and Lactation program at CHOC currently employs 3 registered nurses and 2 registered dietitians who are IBCLC’s as well as 4 Certified Lactation Educators (CLE).  Throughout CHOC many staff have participated in various levels of lactation training including the completion of the Certified Lactation Educator training.

To further support our patients’ unique lactation needs, CHOC has hosted several educational opportunities for healthcare professionals, including a joint conference with the American Medical Association in 2009, the La Leche League  Conference in 2012, and the recent annual hosting of the University of California—San Diego CLE course.

CHOC’s lactation program is rich in history and our commitment to the core values and goals set forth 20 years ago by WHO, UNICEF, and WABA will continue to lead us in our pursuit for optimal nutrition for our young patients and further CHOC’s commitment to providing lactation services to all those in need. Join us in celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2012!

For more information on World Breastfeeding Week and how you can become involved visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

For additional lactation information or services, visit the Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Department’s Web page.

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