Selfies took a whole new dimension when WHO’s spokesperson Fadela Chaib encouraged the move of taking breastfeeding-selfies—the ‘brelfies’ — for raising awareness about the importance of breastfeed for infants. Ms Chaib told this in a regular UN briefing held in Geneva recently.

The soon-to-become latest social media trend “brelfies” are the photos taken by women whilst breastfeeding their babies. Despite the criticism adjoined by the issue, government officials from the leading state authorities endorsed necessary moves taken to encourage the practice of breastfeeding.

While the trend of breastfeeding has not met an all-time-low but the rates are still not up to the mark. UNICEF points out that while the trend of breastfeeding has remained above average during the past decade, the count still lingers low i.e., only 39% of children less than six months of age in the developing world are exclusively breastfed. Similarly, only 58% of two-year-olds are breastfed.

Keeping the current scenario in mind, Christophe Boulierac, the UN’s spokesperson from the children’s agency UNICEF, encouraged the supportive activities for keeping the breastfeeding tradition alive. He said, “World Breastfeeding Week starts on August 1, and the UN wants to get people talking about breastfeeding to improve infant nutrition around the world.”

He believes that brelfies can provide a good initiative in keeping the people involved in talking about the issue and it can also encourage mothers to carry out the practice themselves. According to him support in any form is appreciated even if it needs social media correspondence. #Brelfies has been a leading Twitter and Instagram trend that has been endorsed by many. However, it has invited criticism on account of it being “naked exhibitionism”.

Although Mr Boulierac endorses the move, he stipulates that using social media to raise awareness is of extreme importance as long as the intimacy and dignity of mothers and children is protected.

According to UNICEF, 77 million newborns, about half of all babies, are not breastfed by the mothers within an hour of birth, depriving them of the essential nutrients, antibodies and skin-to-skin contact that can protect them from disease and death.

An ugly truth of neglecting the importance of breastmilk highlighted by the UNICEF states that the babies who do not get breast milk at all are seven times more likely to die from infections than those who got at least some breast milk in their first six months.

Moreover Ms Chaib whilst supporting the practice of providing mother’s milk to the infant said that breastfed children are less likely to be malnourished or overweight or obese, and develop less metabolic diseases in later life. She also stated that the women who breastfeed their child are also at reduced risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

However, mothers sometimes feel reluctant to go with the practice due to lack of proper supporting measures. This also justifies the marked decrease in the rates of breastfeeding that can be ascertained to the fact that in the past two decades more women have started working which deprives their children from getting the necessary feed from the mothers during the first two years of life, according to the UNICEF.

The UN, WHO and UNICEF have joined hands in providing better opportunities to the mothers and improving the healthcare support and policies for ensuring a rise in the trend of breastfeeding.

The smart initiative to celebrate the world’s breastfeeding day is also one of the many steps taken by the government authorities for promoting breastfeeding. According to UNICEF, this annually celebrated event paves way for highlighting the critical importance of breastfeeding for children across the globe.

The last year’s event was based on the theme of ‘Women and Work – Let’s Make it Work’ which emphasizes the need for better support systems and policies to enable working mothers to breastfeed. According to UNICEF, there are about 830 million working women in the world that return to their jobs after giving birth. Therefore, there is a great need for support from their family and community to manage the demands of work and breastfeeding their babies.

Moreover, the leading government authorities and organizations are engaged in promoting breastfeeding and have committed to increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life to at least 50% by 2025 throughout the world.

All these positive moves taken by the giants of healthcare sector and especially this newfound social media support-system of sharing ‘brelfies’, will hopefully help encourage the mothers to breastfeed their children better than before.