On the occasion of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is encouraging more women to exclusively breastfeed their babies.

Each year, from 1 to 7 August, HMC supports the global network of individuals and organisations working to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding babies from birth up to the age of two years. The theme for this year is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.

Dr Amal Abu Bakr Arbab, Lactation Consultant and Lead for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at the Women’s Hospital, noted that breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients, antibodies, enzymes, and substances they need for healthy growth and development.

Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the healthcare system and society at large. Through our event, we will ensure women are empowered and have the right information and practical help to understand how to successfully breastfeed their babies.’

She added that colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is hailed by WHO as the perfect food for newborns. The organisation recommends that feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

Women are being encouraged to breastfeed their babies with colostrum within minutes of giving birth, which is why we always ensure skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their newborns immediately after birth.’

According to WHO, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800,000 child lives would be saved every year.

To raise awareness on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week, HMC’s maternity facilities will be conducting events for both staff and patients.  As part of these activities, the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Al Wakra Hospital is organising an awareness campaign, featuring educational workshops and lectures in English and Arabic to highlight the significance of breastfeeding and its impact on the health of mother and child as well as the difficulties that breastfeeding women can face.

In addition, Women’s Hospital will conduct a public awareness and patient education event targeting pregnant women, new mothers, and their families. During the event, the specialised breastfeeding team will provide one-on-one breastfeeding education and counselling, facilitate group discussions and offer breastfeeding classes to mothers. An educational animation video about breastfeeding will also be on display at the unit. Information leaflets, booklets, and gifts will be distributed to patients.

World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

For more information, visit the HMC website through this link.