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World Breastfeeding Week Starts Today
The 20th World Breastfeeding Week starts today, and lasts until August 7. It’s a global affair launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in conjunction with the World Health Organization and UNICEF. In other words, every continent on the planet is the host of events that raise awareness about mother’s milk. The events include parties, lunches, recognitions, health fairs, giveaways, breastfeeding presentations, zoo events, pool parties, community walks and even massages. (Sure, why not!)
As you’ve probably heard, the breastfeeding debate has reached critical levels lately. Bloomberg’s latest Latch On campaign urges hospitals to keep formula under lock and key and instruct mothers to dive nipple-first into natural breast-feeding (pump-optional). Some think his encouragement is a little heavy-handed.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a study reports that breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months without introducing other foods or liquids seems to increase the child’s risk for developing peanut and tree nut allergies. The study’s validity has been questioned, as it relies on memory recall and doesn’t account for family history, but even detractors admit that there appears to be a relationship between the length of time a mother nurses her child and the child’s risk for allergies. It’s complicated.
We live in a time where mothers gets harassed for breastfeeding in public. Poor Alanis Morissette. But way back in the day, it was not uncommon to see a six-year-old dangling from his mother’s nipple. In fact, during the 18th century mother's milk was considered a miracle fluid that could cure people and bestow wisdom to its imbibers.
Things have changed, for sure. But let’s not forget that breast-feeding isn’t easy. New mommas need support, encouragement and education, and you can’t stuff that into a hospital goodie bag.