For World Breastfeeding Week this year, the Health Services Authority (HSA) in partnership with the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group is encouraging parents in Cayman to become empowered with the information and resources they need to realise their breastfeeding goals.
Celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August, World Breastfeeding Week encourages breastfeeding and improves the health of babies. “This year’s World Breastfeeding Week slogan is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”. Empowerment is a process that requires evidence-based information and support from a mother’s family, friends, employers and community to create the enabling environment where mothers can breastfeed optimally.
“People feel empowered when they are informed,” said HSA Maternity Unit Manager Charmin Fennell. “Our midwives and nurses help to make parents aware of the remarkable benefits that breastfeeding offers and assist and inform breastfeeding mothers who may find it challenging and need some guidance on how to alleviate some of these challenges. We want all parents to know that there are resources available to them on island that will inform, support and help them to feel empowered to breastfeed.”
Prior to the arrival of a baby, parents can participate in a free eight-week educational series called ParentCraft offered by the Cayman Islands Hospital on Monday evenings 5:30pm-7:30pm in the Women’s Health Centre. Topics covered include breastfeeding, nutrition for pregnancy, labour and delivery, knowing your baby and infant CPR. There is no charge or need to register in advance.
On the arrival of a baby, parents can ask questions and seek guidance from the experienced midwives and nurses of the Cayman Islands Hospital’s Maternity Unit and Women’s Health Centre. They can explain the benefits of breastfeeding, proper positioning and latching, offer practical advice on breastfeeding challenges, help mothers to identify when their baby is hungry and refer parents to community resources for breastfeeding support.
The midwives at the Woman’s Health Centre, West Bay Health Centre and Bodden Town Health Centre offer free postnatal care and home visits for all patients. They can provide general and breastfeeding support as necessary.
Parents can also seek assistance from the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group, a volunteer organisation that meets regularly to offer free support and education in breastfeeding to expecting and existing mothers. The group members are knowledgeable in breastfeeding and make themselves readily available in every district.
The World Health Organization recommends that babies should be breastfed exclusively in the first six months. Thereafter, solid foods should be introduced to fulfil babies nutritional requirements while breastfeeding can continue until the child is 2 years old or beyond.
“Breastfeeding offers the finest and most natural nutrition for babies, benefits babies' growth and development and promotes emotional bonding between mothers and babies,” said HSA Nutritionist Simone Sheehan. “Sustained breastfeeding relies not only on the hard work and perseverance of breastfeeding mothers but also support from their family members and the community as a whole. We can all support this process, as breastfeeding is a team effort. To enable breastfeeding we all need to protect, promote and support it.”