World Breastfeeding Week

Mom gazing down at sleeping newborn

This week we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Each year the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) coordinates and organizes WBW between August 1st-7th. #WBW2020 focuses on “the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people.”

There’s that word again. Support. One thing that is necessary for anyone’s journey, whatever it looks like, is support. Support can come from families, communities, health systems, and workplaces. Although progress has been made with “normalizing” breastfeeding, including all 50 states having laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, we still have a long way to go. We need the support of laws, including for the workplace. Only 32 states have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace, and only 19 states exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty or allow jury service to be postponed. (Find your state laws here). We need the support of our health systems, including doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies, and access to lactation consultants. We need the support of community.

Although breastfeeding is absolutely natural and “normal”, there are very few mothers who have had a completely uneventful, challenge-free breastfeeding experience – at least the first time around. Many successfully persist through the challenges, others find them too hard to surmount. And, some don’t even try because the obstacles are too great. Women not only need support and education about the benefits of breastfeeding their children, but also the awareness that it takes determination and commitment.

Communities that support breastfeeding are definitely available, but new moms, and moms who struggle, can have trouble reaching out or finding the right specialized support. Social media and online communities have stepped in to fill the need for 24/7 encouragement and information, but in-person connections with like-minded parents remain vital. There is nothing like real life, personal, interactive, connective support. Parenting is intense. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. And nothing you read or hear is as critical to breastfeeding as being surrounded by support. Getting an encouraging word. Receiving information from someone who cares. Seeing other moms breastfeeding. Sometimes it’s a hug, a casserole, or just empathy. Having a spouse or partner who is a champion of breastfeeding is essential and amazing, but if there is no community, if there are no other mothers who can share your breastfeeding bootcamp stories with, if there aren’t others who can show you, help you, and “get” you and your challenges, it doesn’t stick.

We believe that community is vital to breastfeeding success, whether your tribe is large or small, and whatever your breastfeeding goal.

Resources & Links for your breastfeeding journey:
Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Book: Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding
Holistic Moms Network
La Leche League
Breastfeeding USA
United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCS)