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World Breastfeeding Week 2020 – Take Action: Building Knowledge and Skills at All Levels

Breastfeeding mothers and chestfeeding parents encounter a wide variety of providers from pregnancy through weaning. The importance of ensuring that those providers – from peer educators to IBCLCs to nurses and physicians – have adequate training was a key point raised in yesterday’s webinar. (To learn more about the Global Breastfeeding Collective’s webinar Achieving Health Equity: Providing Skilled Breastfeeding Support Universally or watch a recording, click here.)

Today’s blog post shares practical next steps on how to support breastfeeding and chestfeeding families by supporting the next action area – building knowledge and skills at all levels.

As a part of World Breastfeeding Week, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has identified six action areas for creating change. We will share one with you for the next six days. 

Just learning about this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebrations? Get an overview here. Read the other posts in this series here, here, here, and here.

Day five action area: Building knowledge and skills at all levels

Breastfeeding and chestfeeding people deserve consistent and accurate information throughout the course of their pregnancy, lactation, and weaning. 

To help families reach their lactation goals, lay and peer supporters need basic training in breastfeeding counselling and practical skills. Health and allied professionals need breastfeeding counselling skills and additional clinical skills to manage and overcome problems. It is also essential to have expert resource people to act as academic teachers, trainers, program managers and supervisors. Their role is to ensure effective capacity building and skills development at all levels, and to maintain and update healthcare standards. The development of consistent competencies throughout different levels requires investment that has corresponding benefits and economic returns.

What you can do*

  • Invest in consistent training programmes for different levels of health professionals, lactation consultants, community health workers and lay/peer supporters.
  • Advocate for placement of appropriately-trained and skilled staff at various levels: peer supporters, health professionals, lactation consultants and resource persons.
  • Promote scaling up of existing breastfeeding training tools and programmes including online, digital and e-learning methods, as well as face-to-face clinical and other practical teaching.
  • Engage school children, students, youth and social media influencers to spread awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for planetary health.

* How you can support these efforts depends on your role in the breastfeeding and chestfeeding community. If you are a policy maker, please consider these priorities. If you are not, please call on your local, regional, and national leaders to take action. Or consider becoming a policy leader yourself, by getting involved with your breastfeeding coalition, public health agency, or an elected office – we need your leadership at the highest possible level!

The 2020 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet. This year’s theme celebrates the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and WABA in observing WBW 1-7 August 2020. 

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