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World Breastfeeding Week speech by Ms Noala Skinner, UNICEF Montenegro Representative

Published date: 31.07.2009 12:03 | Author: Govori i Izjave

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The theme of this years World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are you ready?

Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies child mortality can soar from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhea, respiratory illness and malnutrition. Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for the youngest infants. And even in non emergency settings such as Montenegro, breastfeeding saves lives.

In Montenegro, latest research reveals that only 19% of women exclusively breastfeed their children within the first six months and only every fourth mother breastfeeds her baby within the first hour after birth.

International guidelines recommend breastfeeding to start within the first hour after delivery, and to have exclusive breastfeeding within the first 6 months.

Our latest research, from June 2009 illustrates that the overwhelming majority of guardians are aware of the importance of breastfeeding, but we still need to communicate a key message that we hope will lead to a significant increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates in Montenegro:

During the first six months of life, breastmilk is THE MOST COMPLETE FORM OF NUTRITION AN INFANT CAN HAVE. Please dont doubt this. It is a fact.

We can not stress enough the importance and benefits associated with breastfeeding for babies and for their mothers.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of illness. It promotes better brain and nervous system development, and it provides a unique mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for each baby to thrive.

Breastfeeding supports a mothers physical and emotional health. Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnant weight this is a cosmetic detail, but for many women, it is an added benefit. And in the end, it is much cheaper to breastfeed. It is estimated that it can cost around 500 euros a year to formula-feed your baby.

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, and it is the most incredible experience because you know you are giving your baby the best possible start in life. But mothers need support. They need information; they need support from health workers in the maternity ward and from their families. They need support from the men in their lives. Fathers have a role to play. Fathers can and should also have skin to skin time with their babies.

UNICEF and the Ministry of Health will launch a campaign, based on the needs identified in our research, and it will start tomorrow. This year, we will have three main themes:
Breastfeeding the best to start life and the provider of the most complete form of nutrition a child can have
The role of a father - its the opportunity of a lifetime
Talk to your child alternatives to physical discipline

I hope you will join with us all in our call for support to families at this time. Appropriate infant feeding can save lives, and ensure optimal growth and development.

Thank you very much