To observe World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2020 and in compliance with infection control measures against the spread of COVID-19, the Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC) under Hamad Medical Corporation, will hold a virtual breastfeeding training and consultations via telephone for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, from 11 until 13 August.
WWRC, which is a centre for promoting breastfeeding and an internationally-accredited Baby Friendly Hospital, is keen to raise public awareness on breastfeeding and promote its importance for babies and mothers through initiatives such as WBW and other similar campaigns.
The activities are being organised by the WWRC Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) team lead Dr Amal Abu Bakr Arbab, and supported by Dr Mai Al Qubaisi, NICU Director and BFHI programme chairperson.
Over the three-day event, the team – including lactation consultants, breastfeeding resource nurses as well as patient family educators – will be available to virtually attend to queries relating to breastfeeding, from pregnant women and mothers. They will also teach in-patient mothers the skill that will support them to exclusively breastfeed for six months.
As the global community observes the annual World Breastfeeding Week 2020 under the theme, ‘Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet’, Dr Arbab said this year’s WBW not only aims to inform people about the links between breastfeeding and the environment, but also to galvanise action on improving the health of the planet and people through breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns and young infants with the nutrients, antibodies, enzymes, and substances they need for healthy growth and development. Breastmilk is a natural renewable food that is environmentally safe and friendly because it is produced and delivered to the consumer without pollution, packaging or waste.
Dr Arbab stressed that because breastmilk is portable and readily available to infants, virtually all mothers can breastfeed at any time and according to the needs and demands of their babies.
Highlighting the importance of WBW, Dr Al Qubaisi reinforces the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF that babies should be fed only their mothers’ milk right from birth up to their first six months of life, and to continue to breastfeed for two years and beyond in addition to consuming nutritionally adequate and safe complimentary (solid) foods.
Breastfeeding is the best start for both mother and baby. It provides joyful moments of interaction and bonding between mother and baby that enriches their life together.
Breastmilk is the natural first food for babies, according to Dr Al Qubaisi. It is all the food and drink that a baby needs in an adequate quantity and quality for the first six months of life.
Breastfeeding has several health, economic and social benefits for babies, mothers, families and the communities. Breastfeeding benefits the environment as it is eco-friendly and it saves babies and mothers’ lives because it contains antibodies, enzymes, hormones and substances for healthy growth and development. Scientific evidence proved that globally, exclusive breastfeeding for six months could prevent 1.3 million infant deaths and optimal breastfeeding can reduce more than 800,000 child and 20,000 maternal deaths each year.
Many studies have shown that breastfed infants do better on intelligence and behaviour tests into adulthood than formula-fed babies. Breastfed babies are less prone than babies fed formula milk to common childhood diseases, particularly acute infections such as acute gastroenteritis, upper respiratory system infections, ear infections, and more such as necrotizing entero-colitis in premature babies. It also lowers the risk of chronic conditions later in life, such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, childhood asthma and childhood leukemia and others.
Not only does breastfeeding benefit babies, it can also benefit mothers’ health too, says Dr Dr Al Qubaisi.
Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of bleeding immediately after birth, anemia, type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, post-partum anxiety and depression, bone decaying for menopausal women. In addition, breastfeeding has also been proven to be a natural method of child spacing.
To achieve the goal of helping mothers breastfeed exclusively, global maternity hospitals are required to implement the WHO/UNICEF BFHI, which was launched in 1991. In 2012, WWRC championed the HMC BFHI with the objective to strengthen maternity practices that will promote and support mothers to exclusively breastfeed during hospital stay. The WWRC hospital policymakers, managers, staff are committed to adopt and support the BFHI.
WWRC maternity and neonatal doctors and nurses are trained to implement BFHI and provide breastfeeding best clinical practices.
For breastfeeding-related enquiries, mothers can call these numbers: 4026 3867 / 5534 8026 / 5548 1739. You can also visit hamad.qa for more information about WWRC.