What a coincidence: World Breastfeeding Week follows right on the heels of National NFP Awareness Week! This year marks the 20th anniversary of WBW, and the 10th year of the UN's involvement through the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
The last 20 years have seen a dramatic increase in support for breastfeeding at a professional level, and a deeper understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. A generation ago, many infants were transitioned to commercial formulas at just a few weeks of age, if they were breastfed at all. Today, the American Pediatric Association recommends that babies receive all of their nutrition via breastfeeding until they are six months old, and continue breastfeeding concurrently with the introduction of solid food until they are at least one year old. The World Health Organization goes even farther, encouraging mothers to continue to breastfeed "up to two years of age or beyond."
Having this professional support can make such a difference: For us, having access to a certified lactation consultant at the hospital after Little Bear was born was a lifesaver. His enthusiastic but poor latch in first few hours left me physically unable to nurse him for the next day and a half, but the nurses were able to help us find solutions that didn't involve substituting with formula or introducing bottles.
I am so glad to see the continuing commitment of our health professionals and international health organizations to spreading information about breastfeeding and helping to ensure that all children receive the best possible nutrition!