This month marks 21 years that August has been designated the month to celebrate mothers effectively feeding their babies with their own milk.
It was in the basement of UNICEF on Feb. 14, 1991, that the idea to set aside a special day that ended up turning into a week, was born.
It was the WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) that took the idea and ran with it. The first year it was celebrated was 1992. It was launched to commemorate the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration.
The Innocenti Declaration originally was produced by a collaboration of participants meeting in Innocenti, Florence, Italy in 1990.
The purpose of the declaration was to raise awareness of the benefits of babies receiving human milk as the ideal food for optimal growth. It also talks about the benefits for the mother's health as well.
The declaration encourages advocacy for mothers to receive support and education when they are feeding their babies. It states: "Breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development."
We are fortunate in our society that most of us have access to medical care, clean water, and continued support for mothers as they learn about mothering. This is not the case worldwide.
Remember this is a worldwide celebration,not just here in theUnited States. Babiesdie from diarrhea and respiratory infections in massive numbers in many countries. Effective breastfeeding dramatically reduces a baby's risk of dying from those two conditions.
Approximately 70 countries are having seminars, public forums and walks to celebrate the importance of mothers helping mothers.
The theme of this year's celebration is mothers helping mothers, being close to each other, which helps with successful and effective breastfeeding.
Here in Manatee County we are having a celebration from 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 21 at the Bradenton Riverwalk. It is being co-sponsored by The Florida Department of Health and Manatee Memorial Hospital.
We welcome all mothers, fathers, babies and children to come and celebrate mothers being close to each other. Effective breastfeeding contributes to the health of the whole family.
The family is the basic unit of our society. When we have healthy families, we have healthy cities, healthy counties, healthy states and ultimately a healthy nation.
It is the hope that wherever World Breastfeeding Week or Month is being celebrated, in all of the 70 countries, that the focus will always be on how to promote the health of every family.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.