Breastfeeding Week Celebrated
Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Mark Scotland, JP emphasised the need for a strong support network at the start of World Breastfeeding Week 2011 at an event at the Health Services Authority on Monday, 1 August. The Minister's speech is followed by this year's proclamation.
Since 1991 World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated internationally during 1 to 7 August. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years and beyond.
Although breastfeeding is a special, intimate time between a mother and baby, a strong support network makes all the difference in mothers achieving their breastfeeding goals. With the resources of the Internet and mobile phones, connections for support are now much greater than just face-to-face.
This growth in communication networks with family, friends, health professionals and others is celebrated during this World Breastfeeding Week with the slogan "Talk to Me! Breastfeeding - A 3D Experience." What better time to increase the communication between mothers and to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience.
Research shows that when mothers get breastfeeding help from family, friends, employers and professionals like International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), they resolve questions and problems quicker and become more satisfied with their breastfeeding experience. This in turn helps mothers and babies achieve the significant health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months. To achieve these goals, breastfeeding families need hands-on and heartfelt support in their local communities.
In Cayman, we have many resources to support breastfeeding families. Each new mother is given an information packet from the Breastfeeding Support Group. They receive a contact list of the members in the group and are encouraged to call them if they have questions or concerns. These volunteers are experienced mothers or health care professionals.
Our Public Health Department also provides free home visits for families shortly after birth. These visits by a Community Midwife are invaluable to prevent complications in the early days.
These days, mothers are also making connections through the Internet. Chat rooms, forums, networks and websites are devoted to connecting mothers with each other to share ideas, frustrations and successes. Social media sites like Facebook give families new means by which to connect over great distances.
Social media and mobile phones can also help mothers to more easily connect with breastfeeding professionals. I am pleased to note that our Breastfeeding Support Group is launching out in this direction. With their Facebook page, Twitter account and volunteers using Skype to keep in touch with mothers, anyone can access breastfeeding information and support anytime and anywhere.
Finally, breast milk is readily available and affordable and contributes to a lifetime of good health. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week Proclamation
WHEREAS, breastmilk provides appropriate nutrition for the normal growth of babies, and has a positive impact on the health and well-being of the baby which lasts far beyond infancy; and
WHEREAS the act of breastfeeding builds a strong emotional connection between the mother and baby, a bond which lasts a lifetime; and
WHEREAS, mothers are more successful in meeting their breastfeeding goals when they have a strong network of support from family, friends, employers and healthcare providers; and
WHEREAS, access to professional care from International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) is a key component in a network of support and improves mothers' ability to reach their breastfeeding goals; and
WHEREAS, World Breastfeeding Week is a time to recognize the importance of breastfeeding and global connectivity for protection, promotion and support; and
WHEREAS, the theme for 2011 is "Talk to Me! Breastfeeding-A 3D Experience."
THEREFORE, I, the Honourable Mark Scotland, Minister for Health, call upon members of our community to support breastfeeding babies and mothers and do hereby proclaim August 1-7, 2011 to be World Breastfeeding Week in the Cayman Islands.