World Breastfeeding Week

What Is It, What Are the Themes, and How Is It Celebrated

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What Is World Breastfeeding Week?

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual event organized by The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to promote, support and encourage breastfeeding throughout the world. It's celebrated every year between August 1st and August 7th.

The History of World Breastfeeding Week

During a meeting in 1990, The World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) created the Innocenti Declaration, a formal statement about the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.

This document outlines the benefits and importance of breastfeeding, establishes breastfeeding goals and provides methods of achieving these goals.

The next year, in 1991, The World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action was formed to carry out the Innocenti Declaration. As part of the campaign to achieve their goals and get more information about breastfeeding out to the world, WABA created World Breastfeeding Week. The first WBW was celebrated in 1992 and has grown rapidly to include many countries and organizations worldwide. Due to this exposure and the promotion of breastfeeding, breastfeeding rates around the world are increasing.

The Themes of World Breastfeeding Week

Each year, World Breastfeeding Week is represented by a different theme and slogan designed to emphasize and bring awareness to a particular aspect of breastfeeding while building upon the themes of the past. Once a new theme is chosen, WABA utilizes marketing materials such as brochures, banners, posters and it's website to promote the theme.

Government programs, local breastfeeding groups, healthcare organizations and a variety of other participants use the theme and materials to host events, spread the word, and celebrate breastfeeding all around the globe. Past themes have included The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, Support for Working Mothers, Health, Nutrition, Training Breastfeeding Support Persons and many others.

To learn more about previous themes or this year's theme and objectives visit the World Breastfeeding Week website.

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week

WBW is currently observed in over 170 countries around the world, and it's celebrated in so many ways. The media provides exposure, as organized events are held to spread the messages and educate the public about breastfeeding. Some agencies sponsor walks or host parties while other groups wear bracelets, tee-shirts, and/or buttons to show their support during this week long celebration. As an individual, you can join local celebrations, purchase WBW merchandise, or submit a pledge of participation to WABA. To find out more about the events in your area, check with your local La Leche groups, health care organizations, or government programs such as WIC. Regional newspaper and media outlets may also provide information on special events.

Sources:

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition.  Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

UNICEF. Innocenti Declaration: On the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding. 1990. Accessed May 10, 2014: http://www.unicef.org/programme/breastfeeding/innocenti.htm

World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action. Nurturing The Future Through World Breastfeeding Week. 2012. Accessed May 10, 2014: http://worldbreastfeedingweek.net

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