Every year, National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is celebrated in the United States to encourage and support breastfeeding mothers. This year’s theme is “Together We Can Do Great Things”, which emphasizes the importance of community support in a mother’s breastfeeding journey.
During this month, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies in public places, and businesses and organizations are encouraged to support breastfeeding mothers by providing them with private spaces and accommodations. There are also many events and educational opportunities available for both mothers and the community at large.
The goal of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is to normalize breastfeeding so that mothers feel comfortable nursing their babies in public and to break down the barriers that prevent mothers from breastfeeding. Working together can create a more supportive and inclusive society for all.
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If you are a breastfeeding mother, or if you know someone who is, there are many ways to get involved and support National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Here are some ideas:
Share your story
Your experience can encourage and inspire other mothers who are breastfeeding or considering it. You can share your story on social media using the hashtag #NBAM, or you can submit it to a website like Breastfeeding USA (breastfeedingusa.org/my-story).
Educate yourself and others about breastfeeding
There are many resources available to help you learn about breastfeeding and to answer any questions you may have. The website Breastfeeding USA is a great starting point, and they also offer free online breastfeeding classes.
Attend or host an event
There are often events happening during National Breastfeeding Awareness Month that you can attend, or you can even host your own event! Check out the website of the National Breastfeeding Coalition for a list of events happening in your area, or visit the website of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to find out how to host a “Big Latch On” event.
Support a breastfeeding mother
If you know someone who is breastfeeding, offer your support! You can help by providing practical assistance, like childcare or meals, or simply by offering emotional support. Let her know that she is not alone in this journey.
What are some barriers to breastfeeding that moms face?
There are many barriers that mothers face when it comes to breastfeeding, but some of the most common ones are:
- Lack of support from family and friends
- Inadequate maternity leave
- Lack of knowledge about breastfeeding
- Fear of judgment or criticism from others
- Difficulty finding private places to breastfeed in public
- Unsupportive workplaces
- Insufficient lactation support
How can we overcome these barriers?
The best way to overcome these barriers is to work together as a community. By educating ourselves and others about the importance of breastfeeding, offering support to breastfeeding mothers, and creating more inclusive environments, we can make a difference.
Ways Friends and Family Can be Supportive
There are some ways that friends and family can be supportive in a mom’s breastfeeding journey and here’s how:
- Educate yourself about the benefits of breastfeeding and how you can support a breastfeeding mother.
- Offer practical assistance, like childcare or meals.
- Encourage and normalize breastfeeding by talking about it openly and positively.
- Create a safe and supportive environment for the breastfeeding mother.
- Respect the mother’s decisions around breastfeeding.
These are just a few ways in which you can support a mother’s breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding Support Outside of the House
If you’re looking for breastfeeding support outside of the home, it’s important to know what resources are available.
Lactation specialists are health care professionals who are experts in breastfeeding. They can provide one-on-one support and guidance on breastfeeding techniques, latch, milk production, and more.
Breastfeeding Support Groups
There are often breastfeeding support groups available in local communities. These groups provide a space for mothers to share their experiences, ask questions, and receive support from other breastfeeding mothers.
Locating Baby-Friendly Hospitals
The WHO initiative can help you locate baby-friendly hospitals. I gave birth at one and could feel the difference having had a baby at a non-baby-friendly hospital previously. I wasn’t pressured into formula feeding; there were no bottles of formula left around. Breastfeeding was encouraged first.
Ways Your Insurance Can Help Your Breastfeeding Journey
Many insurance companies now cover lactation consultants and breastfeeding support. Some plans will even cover pumping equipment rentals or purchases. If you’re not sure what your insurance covers, call and ask them about it! Additionally, if your employer offers a
Breastfeeding Issues Still Being Worked On
While we’ve come far in terms of support for breastfeeding mothers, there’s still more work to be done. Some issues that are still being worked on include:
On-Site Child Care
There are some employers who understand the importance of breastfeeding and have on-site child care available. This is a great option for mothers who return to work after their baby’s birth.
Paid Maternity Leave
In the United States, there is no federal law mandating paid maternity leave. However, some states and companies have their own policies in place. This is an issue that is still being worked on, as paid maternity leave would greatly benefit breastfeeding mothers. New York State currently has Paid Family Leave (PFL), which is currently 12 weeks of paid leave each parent gets to use up to the child’s first birthday. This, combined with FMLA (unpaid), I was able to spend more time with my daughter. Because of PFL, breastfeeding during the first few months was less stressful because I was able to focus on bonding versus stressing about how I will breastfeed my baby once I returned to work.
Lactation Rooms in Public Places
There are now laws in some states requiring that businesses provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers. However, there are still many places that do not have these accommodations. This is an issue that is still being worked on, as lactation rooms would make it easier for breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed in public.
These are just a few of the issues that are still being worked on when it comes to breastfeeding. Although progress has been made, there is still more work to be done.
Having National Breastfeeding Month is a way to bring awareness to these issues and continue working towards making breastfeeding more supported, accepted, and inclusive for all.