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World Breast Feeding Week 2015

Carol Baldwin

Last updated: October 20, 2016 7:26 pm

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This year, World Breast Feeding Week (WBW) will be observed from August 1 through 7. According to the World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action (WABA), which sponsors the week, this is a campaign to raise awareness of the ideal nutritional value of breast-feeding along with women’s health and the right to breast-feed their babies. 1

The focus is on supportive work environments for nursing mothers. “With the WBW 2015 campaign, WABA and its partners at global, regional and national levels aim to empower and support ALL women, working in both the formal and informal sectors, to adequately combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding.” 2

The five objectives for this year’s campaign are to:

  • Galvanize support for working mothers to breastfeed.
  • Promote actions by employers to become mother- and baby-friendly.
  • Inform women about the latest global maternity protection entitlements to raise awareness.
  • Strengthen supportive practices.
  • Engage with target groups working to ensure employees’ rights. 3

Benefits of Breast Feeding for Babies

The benefits of breast-feeding for babies are widely recognized. Breast-feeding is considered the most perfect blend of nutrients for a healthy baby.  Other benefits from breast-feeding are that it:

  • Aids in closeness and bonding, making baby feel secure.
  • Helps appropriate weight gain.
  • Contains antibodies that help fight against bacteria and viruses.
  • Contains the most balanced mix of proteins, vitamins and fats.
  • Has been linked with higher IQ levels.
  • Lowers baby’s risk of allergies and asthma.
  • May lower baby’s risks of some cancers, diabetes and obesity.
  • Is digested more easily than formula.
  • Reduces bouts of diarrhea, ear infections and respiratory illnesses.
  • Reduces number of doctor visits and hospitalizations.
  • May help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 4

Benefits of Breast Feeding for Moms

Not only is breast-feeding good for the baby, but nursing mothers benefit, too. Here are some ways that nursing moms benefit from breast-feeding their babies:

  • Burns extra calories, helping mom to lose pregnancy weight faster.
  • Lowers risk of breast and uterine cancer.
  • May lower risk of osteoporosis.
  • Promotes mother-child bonding.
  • May help reduce uterine bleeding after birth.
  • Releases the hormone oxytocin, helping the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size.
  • Saves time and money. 5

While mothers who breast-feed may feel assured they are doing what is best for themselves and their babies, it is also important to pay attention to what mothers are consuming — both while they are pregnant and after giving birth, while nursing.

What mothers consume will likely affect their babies as it gets passed on through the blood while in utero or through breast milk after birth.

Medications May Increase Risk of Birth Defects

Following a healthy diet is vital, but so is considering what medications you may be taking.  Some medications may harm your baby after birth or even cause birth defects while babies are in utero.

Among the most notable birth defects are cleft lip or palate and other craniofacial problems.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, ‘‘Cleft lip and palate are birth defects that affect the upper lip and the roof of the mouth” and can “affect the appearance of the face, lead to problems with feeding and speech, and lead to ear infections.” 6 This occurs during pregnancy when the baby’s mouth does not develop normally, leaving an opening (cleft) that can run all the way to the nasal cavity. 7

While it remains unclear what the causes of cleft palate and craniofacial defects are, greater risk is associated with the use of some drugs. These may include Zofran and Zuplenz, which has been sometimes prescribed off-label by physicians during pregnancy to relieve nausea and vomiting.

Some scientific studies have suggested that taking Zofran while pregnant may correlate with congenital birth defects. One 2012 study that examined data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, found the risk of cleft palate among babies whose mothers took the drug while in their first trimester of pregnancy more than doubled.

This potential Zofran and cleft palate connection is only one of many reasons for not taking certain medications during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about the effects any medications you take may have on your pregnancy.

  1. World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action. Breast Feeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work! (2015). http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/index.shtml. Accessed July 3, 2015.  

  2. World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action. Breast Feeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work! (2015). http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/index.shtml. Accessed July 3, 2015. 

  3. World Alliance for Breast Feeding Action. Breast Feeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work! (2015). http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/index.shtml. Accessed July 3, 2015. 

  4. WebMD. Health and Baby: Breast Feeding Overview. (2015). http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics. Accessed July 3, 2015. 

  5. WebMD. Health and Baby: Breast Feeding Overview. (2015). http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics. Accessed July 3, 2015. 

  6. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Cleft Lip and Palate. (May 2015). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001051.htm. Accessed June 12, 2015. 

  7. WebMD. Health & Baby: Cleft Palate-Topic Overview. (Oct. 2013). http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/tc/cleft-palate-topic-overview. Accessed June 12, 2015.