World Breastfeeding Week 2019: an important global initiative

Why was World Breastfeeding Week 2019 so essential and how is it helping gender equality? Find out more about the worldwide phenomenon.

Lack of support at work

Only 1% of babies in England are exclusively breastfed at six months

World Breastfeeding Week was celebrated from 1-7 August, a global initiative led by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). This is a group of individuals and organisations united in promoting breastfeeding worldwide.

‘Breastfeeding is the one of the best investments in saving lives and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations,’ it explains in this thought-provoking video.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to optimal breastfeeding is the lack of support for mums when they return to work.

Add to this the huge number of the global workforce working in what WABA describes as the informal economy. This is the 830 million female workers worldwide who don’t have adequate maternity protection. Put simply, unsupportive and insecure workplaces aren’t giving mums the opportunity to breastfeed.

Promoting gender equality

It emphasises the importance of fathers and partners to mums who are breastfeeding, too. Better paternity and parental leave could help them to support their partners in breastfeeding. World Breastfeeding Week aims to empower parents and promote gender equality, by allowing parents the chance to continue to breastfeed.

This is especially important in the UK, given that England has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. The 80% of babies that are breastfed at birth drops to just 1% of babies being exclusively breastfed at six months. More needs to be done to help families who are breastfeeding.

Support and information

We support all parents, however you feed your baby. You can call our feeding support line on 0300 330 0700 (option 1) to talk to a breastfeeding counsellor about your questions or concerns, whether you’re breastfeeding, using formula milk or introducing solids. They have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising, and will offer relevant information and suggestions. The line is open everyday from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays.

Find out how to access breastfeeding support from NCT, including help in your local area.

In honour of World Breastfeeding Week, read one NCT mum’s experience of juggling work and breastfeeding, and how she eventually managed to find a role where she was able to do both.