In 1992, the World Health Organization declared 1 August as World Breastfeeding Day, and Hungary joined the initiative a year later. Every year on this day, experts organize lectures and programs in Hungary to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.

Almost all babies in Hungary receive breast milk

Breast milk contains minerals, vitamins and other vital substances that help babies develop properly and help their nervous systems to mature.

According to WHO, 41% of children under 6 months are exclusively breastfed worldwide. According to the KSH, in Hungary, a quarter of children were still artificially breastfed in the early 2000s, but this proportion has improved significantly, mainly thanks to ongoing awareness campaigns, the promotion of breastfeeding and the work of nurses and doctors. Today, 96% of children aged one year and over have received breast milk in the first 6 months of life.

Breastfeeding in the Golden Hour

In the 1980s, Swedish researchers observed that newborn babies placed on their mother’s tummy instinctively crawl up to her breasts and start sucking: this intimate period was called the “golden hour”. In many hospitals in Hungary, babies and mothers can experience this first encounter in a natural and uninterrupted way, without anyone rushing the process or interfering. Every drop of first milk (colostrum) is a treasure for the baby, because it contains important immune boosters, and its mild laxative effect helps remove fetal dribble and accumulated bilirubin, thus avoiding the development of neonatal jaundice. However, experts also point out that mothers who are unable to have this “golden hour” due to surgery or other reasons can still develop an intimate and harmonious relationship with their child.

Good for the mother, good for the baby

Ideally, babies should be fed breast milk until they are at least six months old. The composition of breast milk changes during the six months according to the baby’s needs. The WHO recommends that breastfeeding can continue as complementary feeding up to two years of age or beyond. Breast milk is not only nutritious, it also has an immune-boosting effect, which means it protects against allergies, making it a kind of “superfood”. Breastfeeding is also beneficial for mothers, helping the body to recover after childbirth and reducing the risk of breast or ovarian cancer. If breast milk is not enough and the baby needs to supplement, ask pediatrician and nurse for help in choosing the right method.