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World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

Breastfeeding is a universal solution that gives everyone a fair start in life. It improves the health, wellbeing and survival of women and children around the world. In a world filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers.

The slogan of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2018 is ‘Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life’.

WBW is organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), which is a global network concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide with the coordination of the WHO/UNICEF (World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund).

Objectives of #WBW2018:

  • Inform: To make people aware about the links between good nutrition, food security, poverty reduction and breastfeeding.
  • Anchor: To include the protection, promotion and support of exclusive breastfeeding in programmes and breastfeeding as the foundation of life
  • Engage: To build teams of professionals, workers, and familial support to create a warm chain of support to mothers for breastfeeding.
  • Galvanise: To advocate for greater investment in breastfeeding programmes at all levels.

Breast milk is the natural first food for babies, it provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life. While breastfeeding is a natural act, it is also a learned behavior. Mothers and other caregivers need active support for establishing and maintaining optimal breast feeding (exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years or beyond, together with age-appropriate, nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods).

Optimal breastfeeding has lifelong positive health effects on:


  • Combats infectious diseases;
  • decreases incidence and severity of diarrhea;
  • lowers respiratory infections and acute otitis media;
  • prevents dental caries and malocclusion;
  • increases intelligence;
  • increase bonding.


  • Faster maternal recovery and weight loss postpartum;
  • helps with birth spacing;
  • reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancers;
  • less maternal postpartum depression;
  • lowers the risk of hypertension.

WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
  • Exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age (the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water unless there are medical reasons).
  • Breastfeeding on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
  • No use of bottles, teats or pacifier
  • Continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond, with introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months.

Facts about breastfeeding-

  • Globally, only 38% of infants 0-6 months are exclusively breastfed
  • Early initiation of breastfeeding (within first hour) can prevent 20% of newborn deaths.
  • Feeding of colostrum, the breastmilk women produce in the first few days after birth, is very important for the infant, decreases neonatal and post neonatal deaths. However, in many cultures colostrum is discarded due to traditional beliefs.
  • Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of age are 11 times less likely to die from diarrhoea and 15 times less likely to die from pneumonia.
  • Breastfeeding is least expensive.

National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme in India

National Family Health Survey-2015-16 (NFHS-4) in India showed that only 42.6% mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, although 78.9% deliveries take place in health facilities. Further 54.9% children were exclusively breastfed during first six months of life. In order to improve infant and young child feeding under ‘Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has launched a national breastfeeding promotion programme as MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection).

MAA (Mothers’ Absolute Affection)- To improve the breastfeeding and child feeding practices in the country, ‘MAA’ (Mothers’ Absolute Affection) has been implemented as a nationwide programme across States/UTs in August 2016. It involves a comprehensive set of activities on protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and child feeding at community and facility levels. The chief components of the MAA Programme are community awareness generation, strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points in public health facilities, and monitoring and award/recognition.

To know more about MAA click at

For The Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding click at

Related link- World breastfeeding week 2017


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Jul 26, 2018
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Aruna Rastogi
  • LAST UPDATED BY : Jul 26, 2018


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