Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week [Photo Essay]
Every day, mothers impart superpowers to their babies through the miracle of breast milk. Breast milk remains one of the safest, most effective, economical ways to protect newborns in early life. Helen Keller Intl guides families every step of the way. We help expectant mothers prepare for their babies’ arrival, support their breastfeeding once they do, and work to stop aggressive and misleading promotion of breast milk substitutes, such as formula.
We’re excited to celebrate Helen Keller’s maternal health work, made possible through the support of our generous community of donors, during World Breastfeeding Week.
Exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of life improves infant health. This includes better physical and nutritional wellbeing, greater immunity, and stronger emotional bonds. It’s also safer, supporting good health for both mothers and their babies. Breast milk has superpowers: it is rich in healthy proteins, fats, and sugars and helps babies build immunity, increase cognitive ability, and supports gut health. Breastfeeding is good for mothers too: it reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type-2 diabetes. In settings large and small, rural and urban, Helen Keller helps mothers and mothers-to-be understand the benefits of breastfeeding and answers questions about keeping their babies healthy. Village gatherings, like this one in Cote d’Ivoire, offer accessible settings for mothers to meet Helen Keller community health workers and get connected to key services such as prenatal healthcare. Evidence-based findings and good breastfeeding practices are illustrated and demonstrated during coaching sessions like this in Cote d’Ivoire’s Kombolokoura region. Mothers and mothers-to-be learn from local community health workers, many from their own villages. Helen Keller also works to strengthen policies that promote optimal infant and young child nutrition. In Cambodia, we partner with the government to routinely monitor breast milk substitute products, like baby formula, to ensure they are appropriately marketed and labeled, and are not misleading consumers. “I learned about the nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating mothers, benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to six months of age, and complementary feeding after that from Helen Keller’s experts,” Sinley Mro of Bangladesh explains. “My message to all parents and all midwives is that breastfeeding has both health and economic benefits for babies and mothers,” Cambodian midwife Ly Mai says. Maternal health and nutrition are important for healthy breastfeeding. Growing nutritious foods at home, and in their communities, empowers mothers and babies with the healthy foundations they need. Last year, Helen Keller reached more than 1.5 million women with essential nutrition counseling and support. Breastfeeding sets the stage for lifelong health and creates hope for the future. Helen Keller offers families education, guidance, and nutritional support every step of the way. Help us continue to reach millions of children and families each year.