By Barbra Elenbaas, ACNM Writer & Editor
August is National
Breastfeeding Month in the United States, and this week is World Breastfeeding Week around
Midwives have known that “breast is best” forever – and in many
ways it seems like public opinion has finally caught up with our evidence. La
Leche League groups are cropping up
everywhere, almost 200 hospitals have shaped up to qualify for the Baby
Friendly designation, and stories like the one about a barista supporting
mamas who breastfeed in public are going
viral. It certainly seems like breastfeeding has hit the big time.
But it’s not all easy latches and baby giggles. We still
need to support new moms who don’t breastfeed because they can’t or because it’s
the right choice for their families. And lest we forget, new moms everywhere continue
to face harsh opposition to breastfeeding in public, and severe hardships when
they return to work. We need to rally around and fight for these moms and
babies – and luckily, we’ve got the whole month to do it! Here is a quick reminder
of why this month is still necessary:
- Because we have some ground to cover: not every
US state specifically protects a woman’s right to breastfeed in public or any
private location. Forty-six
of them do, and so do the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands,
but moms in Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, and Virginia still lack protection.
- Because we’re halfway there: only
25 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have existing laws
related to breastfeeding in the workplace.
- Because we need to offer more support: 76% of
mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, and only 16% of those
moms are breastfeeding exclusively 6 months later.
- Because we have goals: as part of Healthy People
2020, we’re aiming to increase
the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies in the early
postpartum period to 81.9% and who exclusively breastfeed at 6 months to 25.5%
You can do your part to celebrate breastfeeding this month
(and encourage your clients to do the same) by participating in the United
States Breastfeeding Committee’s social media campaign, “Breastfeeding in Six
Words.” Just take a selfie photograph while holding a sign
with a 6-word story answering the question "What does breastfeeding mean to you, and how
can every one of us play a role in supporting breastfeeding?" and post it to your Facebook
and/or Twitter. Make sure you use the hashtags #NBM14 and #SixWords in your posting so the campaign
can find you!
And here’s one useful fun fact you can
spread to all the pregnant and nursing moms in your life that may offer a
little piece of relief: Nordstrom will convert any bra into a
nursing bra for a small alteration fee. The cost varies
on a case-by-case basis, and you don’t even need to have purchased the bra from
Nordstrom. Many families are
faced with significant expenses when having a baby, and this simple service can
help new mothers transition to the breastfeeding relationship in comfort and
style, wearing their favorite bras.
Visit the US
Breastfeeding Committee’s website for more information
about the month and more ways to participate. Let’s help make breastfeeding
easier for moms everywhere!
activities are you, your practice, or your institution planning for National
Breastfeeding Month or World Breastfeeding Week? Let us know in the comments!