World Breastfeeding Week is August 1 through 7. This week exists to support breastfeeding and bettering the lives of babies across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, “Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800,000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.” World Breastfeeding Week has a mission that aligns with Maternova’s goals of maternal health and supporting women both during pregnancy and after.
In our blog dedicated to World Breastfeeding Week, Maternova wants to focus on positive trends. Kenya became the second country, after South Africa, to open a breast milk bank in Africa . The Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi is giving babies a chance who might not have had one otherwise. Mothers who have excess milk following feeding their own children, can be recruited to donate remaining milk to the bank. For those who have concerns about the sanitation and safety of this procedure, there are thorough tests to ensure the baby is receiving good breast milk. Possible donors go through a screening process to make sure that they have no conditions which can be transferred via breast milk. The pasteurization process does not change the nutritional composition of the milk, either. According to Healthy Newborn Network, Kenya sees 193,000 premature babies born each year, and there is a drastic number of infant deaths in the neonatal period. Although there is only the milk bank at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital for now, the desire certainly exists to expand to other hospitals in the area. With that expansion could also mean more African countries hopping on the trend.
Lactation Lab is also on the forefront of breastfeeding innovations. With three different test kits, mothers have the opportunity to find out what is in their breast milk. The kits test for calories, protein, vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins. Results not only disclose information about a mother’s breast milk, but also give advice on how to improve the quality of milk. When breastfeeding is already stressful enough, these tests take away part of that stress by providing confidence in regards to what is in a mother’s breast milk. In a day and age when we are taking DNA tests to find out more about our ancestors, testing breast milk should be the new norm.
Belize has made large strides in maternal health as well. UNICEF shouted out the country’s efforts in a tweet on Monday, saying “As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, let's recognize Belize for legally acknowledging that new mothers need time to be with their new babies. Mothers in Belize receive 16 weeks paid maternity leave and a one time maternity grant. #EarlyMomentsMatter.” Breaking Belize News notes that the Ministry of Health in Belize works to make sure that all seven public hospitals are “child-friendly,” including supporting independent breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. Additionally, the government covers 100% of the maternity leave benefits. This takes some of the financial pressure off employers, and gives them initiative to hire more women who are around the child-bearing years.
Although there is a long way to go in defeating the social stigma that surrounds breastfeeding, the strides being taken cannot be ignored. Milk banks in Africa that make breast milk available to infants in need, kits used to determine the content of breast milk, and an adequate number of paid maternity leave weeks in Belize are just three examples that showcase that steps are being taken to improve the breastfeeding experience. Given that nature provided women with the ability to save 800,000 lives a year, the benefits should be celebrated everyday.
Blog written by Shae Janiga
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Mozambique Recovers after Cyclones Idai and Kenneth
A woman feeds her newborn baby at a clinic supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Mutua Camp in Mozambique.
This photograph is part of a series of images made in the days leading up to the arrival of Secretary-General António Guterres in Mozambique. Mr. Guterres visited the country to take stock of the recovery efforts in the areas impacted by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit just a few weeks apart in March and April 2019.
More than 600 people perished during Idai alone; the effects of the two cyclones combined left approximately 2.2 million people in need of assistance. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners have since been on the ground supporting the Government’s efforts - assisting through contributing to the coordination of international support, distributing food, drinking water and medicine, and providing shelter to those displaced.
08 July 2019
Photo # 814461
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Assessing the global status of maternal and neonatal health in 2020 presents a varied, albeit alarming, view of the lives of mothers and newborns around the world. The socioeconomic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, moreover, has caused upticks in adult and child malnutrition, leading experts to predict a rise in maternal and neonatal mortality this year.