It's World Breastfeeding Week! As we observe this week, we're reminded of a beautiful fact about breastfeeding: It's a tie that binds moms around the globe. Every nursing mother knows the feeling of that bond, no matter where she may be.
When you make the choice to breastfeed your baby, you'll discover a whole new world. What does that world look like? It's joyous, precious, serene—sometimes. Other times, it's loud, messy, and even painful. No matter what your breastfeeding experience is like, we want all moms to feel they have a community of other moms out there for advice and support.
Breastfeeding Facts, Norms, and Celebrations
Every mom who chooses to breastfeed knows what breastfeeding looks like in her world, but what about around the world? Let's take a virtual trip to learn how breastfeeding factors in for mothers and communities around the globe.
In the Philippines, women celebrate National Breastfeeding Month with Hakab Na!, an event where thousands of mothers gather and latch their babies all at the same time to bring awareness to the benefits of breastfeeding. Even the pandemic of 2020 couldn't hold them back. Instead of cancelling, the event was held virtually and was a great success.
Brazil is the world leader in human breast milk banks. Operating similarly to blood banks, milk banks serve as a repository for breast milk donated by healthy mothers. The milk is stored in sterile containers to be dispersed to moms who are unable to nurse their babies.
Africa leads the world in the percentage of children who still receive breast milk at 12 months old. In the African country of Rwanda, working mothers are given one hour of paid time each day to nurse their babies up to one year old.
In Mongolia, breastfeeding is a cultural norm, so much so that there's a statue of a breastfeeding mother in a national park. In many Mongolian communities, families will share breast milk, and it's even traded for food, like bread and milk.
Norway tops the list of world's highest breastfeeding rates, with a whopping 99 percent of babies being breastfed upon birth. At six months of age, 80 percent of babies in this Scandinavian country are still receiving breast milk.
What about our own United States? According to the CDC's 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card, where the U.S. struggles most is "institutional management." In other words, hospitals need to step up their game in terms of policies and practices that support women who've just given birth. However, when it comes to mothers, businesses, and nonprofits pushing to normalize breastfeeding and support nursing moms, we see plenty of change to applaud.