Breastfeeding awareness week begins

The Cayman Islands is joining the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in celebrating the annual Breastfeeding Awareness Week from Wednesday, 1 August, to Tuesday, 7 August.

World Breastfeeding Week celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

In 1992, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action launched the World Breastfeeding Week campaign to focus and facilitate action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Since then, each year, the alliance has put the spotlight on various breastfeeding issues.

The 2012 theme is “Understanding the Past – Planning for the Future”. It focuses on the progress that has been made on the implementation of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, which was adopted by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund 10 years ago.

In the Cayman Islands, the Health Services Authority’s nutritionist Simone Sheehan notes that staff supports the message of early and exclusive breastfeeding with the introduction of appropriate complimentary feeding at around six months of age.

“We are consistently stepping up our efforts in relating this message to mothers of new born infants”,” Ms Sheehan said.

She added that while breastfeeding is a learned behaviour, it is important to remember that the journey to successful breastfeeding begins with the support of families, healthcare providers, employers, and by and large, the community.

The Cayman Islands has many resources to support breastfeeding families. Each new mother is given an information packet, which includes helpful tips and resources for their journey ahead. They also receive a contact list of group members whom they are encouraged to call with questions or concerns. These volunteers are experienced mothers or health care professionals.

Expectant mothers are also sensitised about breast feeding and its importance to both mother and baby, as well as other issues relating to pregnancy and lactation, through Parent Craft classes held at the Cayman Islands Hospital Mondays at 5.30pm.

Implementing the Global Strategy effectively is essential to increase breastfeeding rates: in particular exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.

According to a UNICEF report in January 2012, “In the developing world, progress in exclusive breastfeeding has been modest, improving from 32 per cent around 1995 to 39 per cent around 2010, a relative increase of about 17 percent. Prevalence has increased in all regions with available trend data except the Middle East and North Africa, and many countries have achieved substantial improvements. The Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States region has made particularly noteworthy progress”.

For more information on Breast Feeding Week, Parent Craft classes and other activities planned for new mothers during the month of August, call Ms Sheehan on 244-2655.