Mother Support: Going for Gold!

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is from 29 September to 5 October. It is being celebrated in more than 100 countries under the slogan “Mother Support: Going for Gold!” This expresses, in the Olympic year, the organisers’ conviction that everyone who provides support and encouragement to help mothers breastfeed deserves a gold medal. In future, the National Breastfeeding Committee within the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) will focus more on the needs of socially disadvantaged mothers. They tend to breastfeed their children for shorter periods and the traditional breastfeeding promotion and support offers often do not reach them. In Germany many hospitals, birthing centres and midwife associations are staging their own events to mark World Breastfeeding Week.

Breast milk is the healthiest and cheapest feeding option for infants in the first six months of their lives. In Germany almost 90 percent of mothers choose to breastfeed their babies. Regional surveys from Berlin and Bavaria have, however, shown that they sometimes lack the necessary “staying power”. For various reasons, more than half of the mothers do not follow the recommendation to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months. Targeted counselling and support could probably help to encourage to breastfeed for longer.

Counselling can provide assistance in dealing with numerous breastfeeding problems like galactostasis and mastitis. It can also reassure the many mothers who don’t think they have enough milk to exclusively satisfy their babies’ needs. When mothers go out to work and choose to breastfeed their baby during working time, they also need assistance. There are counselling and support offerings out there but they are not always accessed. This applies in particular to socially disadvantaged mothers and mothers from a migration background. The National Breastfeeding Committee will, therefore, devote more of its energy to these target groups in future. The information sheets of the National Breastfeeding Committee have proved to be very helpful. Even if they can’t replace individual counselling, the breastfeeding recommendations are nonetheless of assistance for pregnant women and mothers in the process of deciding whether or not to breastfeed. They are available in German, English, French, Italian, Russian and Turkish free-of-charge from the secretariat of the BfR National Breastfeeding Committee, 14195 Berlin, Fax: 030-8412-3715, E-Mail:

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