World Breastfeeding Week promotes working women

| 04/08/2015
Cayman News Service

A breastfeeding display at the Cayman Islands Hospital

(CNS): The focus for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, which runs through Friday, 7 August, is to promote concerted global action to support women who want to combine nursing with work. Spearheaded by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the initiative recognises that whether a woman is working in a formal, informal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed.

This year’s official theme is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work”.

The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) is joining the initiative by mounting displays explaining the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby at the Cayman Islands Hospital — in the atrium, the maternity unit and the Women’s Health Centre; in the district health centres throughout Grand Cayman; in most private OB-GYN and private paediatrician offices island-wide; and at Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac.

Simone Sheehan, HSA dietician, is assisting the Cayman breastfeeding initiative, working alongside the Women’s Health Centre and the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group. She said it was vital that organisations across the Cayman Islands work to enable new mothers to breastfeed their babies.

“The benefits of breast milk over formula have been well documented, so we want to raise awareness further to ensure that the wider community appreciates the importance of helping mothers to breastfeed their babies. Our colourful posters throughout the hospital and across the islands will hopefully reinforce the message and help everyone understand that they need to play their part in supporting new mothers,” Sheehan said.

Research has shown that exclusive breastfeeding and adequate appropriate complementary feeding are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially reducing deaths among children under five by about 20%.

According to both the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, early and exclusive breastfeeding improves newborn care and reduces neonatal mortality. In addition, breastfeeding has been shown repeatedly to be the single-most effective way to prevent infant death; it plays a major role in children’s health and development, and significantly benefits the health of mothers.

Abigail Parchment, of the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group, said this year’s initiative calls for a three-pronged approach: time, space and support. “We applaud those employers who already embrace this concept and encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity to positively impact the next generation,” Parchment said.

Any local business that promotes breastfeeding within the workplace can be nominated for the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group contest. To nominate a workplace as breastfeeding friendly and for more information, visit the group’s Facebook page.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week, visit the  WBW website or the HSA website

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