Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is marking the World Breastfeeding Week by encouraging more women to breastfeed their babies. This year's theme is ‘Sustaining Breastfeeding Together’.
Dr Amal Abu Bakr Arbab, lactation consultant and lead for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at Women’s Hospital, noted that breastfeeding is the normal way of providing infants with the nutrients, antibodies, enzymes and substances they need for healthy growth and development.
“Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information and the support of their family, the healthcare system and society at large. Through our event, we will ensure women are empowered and have the right information and practical help to understand how to successfully breastfeed their babies,” she said.
She added that colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is hailed by the WHO as the perfect food for newborns. “Women are being encouraged to breastfeed their babies with colostrum within minutes of giving birth, which is why we always ensure skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their newborns immediately after birth,” she noted.
According to the WHO, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800,000 child lives would be saved every year.
To raise awareness of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week, HMC’s maternity facilities will be conducting events for both staff and patients. The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at Al Wakra Hospital is organising an awareness campaign, featuring educational workshops and lectures in English and Arabic to highlight the significance of breastfeeding and its impact on the health of mother and child as well as the difficulties that breastfeeding women can face.
Women’s Hospital will conduct a public awareness and patient education event targeting pregnant women, new mothers, and their families. During the event, the specialised breastfeeding team will provide one-on-one breastfeeding education and counselling, facilitate group discussions and offer breastfeeding classes to mothers.
An educational animation video about breastfeeding will also be on display at the unit. Information leaflets, booklets and gifts will be distributed to patients.