World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. PAHO/WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children.
It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding in the 21st century: Anytime, anyplace
Transforming breastfeeding into a normative behavior entails addressing the key barriers to breastfeeding that prevent women from making their own decisions about whether and how long to breastfeed. These include influence of cultural practices, limited counseling and support within hospitals and health services, inappropriate marketing practices by manufactures and distributors of infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes, and lack of maternity protection and programs for breastfeeding in the workplace.
One detrimental social barrier includes explicit as well as subtle pressures not to breastfeeding in public. Many women are embarrassed to breastfeed in public and concerned about being rejected by people around them when they do. To overcome this obstacle, mothers need to be socially supported so that they feel comfortable to breastfeed anytime the baby wants, wherever they are. Whether she is inside her home or in public, she needs to feel comfortable to breastfeed whenever and wherever her child is hungry or needs to be comforted. By breastfeeding in this way she sends a clear and powerful message to her family, community and society that breastfeeding is natural and helps to re-establish, in some settings, and affirm, in other settings breastfeeding as a normative behavior for the modern woman.