Lactation: Educate & Support
by Laura Maxson, LM
If it’s August, we must be talking about breastfeeding/chestfeeding/providing babies with human milk. National Breastfeeding Awareness Month includes:
Week 1: World Breastfeeding Week
Educate & Support
Week 2: Indigenous Milk Medicine Week
Strengthening Our Traditions from Birth and Beyond
Week 3: Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Week
Educate & Support
Week 4: Black Breastfeeding Week
BBW 2022: 10 Years, A New Foundation
On Thursday, August 4, from 10 am-1 pm, families in Santa Cruz County can swing by the Watsonville Hospital parking lot for a drive-through World Breastfeeding Week event. People will learn about breastfeeding and the local support provided by event co-sponsors: Salud Para La Gente, Community Bridges WIC, Watsonville Community Hospital, and the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition. Free goody bags will be distributed while supplies last. Everyone is welcome.
Community Bridges WIC, a nutrition program for women, infants, and children, provides nutritional support for women who are pregnant, post-partum, or breastfeeding; infants; and children under age five (including foster children). Grandparents and partners are welcome, too. Nutritional support includes:
- Benefits of buying healthy foods like organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods
- Personalized nutrition education
- Breastfeeding information and support
- Referrals to health care and other community services (2-1-1, The Food Bank)
- Farmers’ market coupons for many county families
- Healthy cooking instruction and demonstrations
- Personal Peer Counselor for breastfeeding support from pregnancy through the first year of a baby’s life
- Online nutrition education classes in English & Español
- Infant formula when it is needed instead of, or in addition to, breastmilk.
This year’s infant formula shortages have given an expanded focus to the needs of families with babies in our community. WIC has expanded the infant formulas covered in their program in response to recalls and periodic shortages. As parents deal with the impact of infant formula shortages, some are also interested in relactation – to resume or initiate breastfeeding/pumping after stopping or never initiating breastfeeding. WIC also offers support and information on relactation to families interested in learning more.
Breastfeeding advocates, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and many more, recognize that breastfeeding goals extend beyond the often cited “first year.” Current recommendations are that baby be fed breastmilk exclusively until complementary foods have begun in the second half of the first year, with breastfeeding continuing as mutually desired by mother and child for two years or beyond.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ June 27, 2022, Technical Report: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, “Extensive data confirm that many acute and chronic pediatric disorders, such as otitis media, acute diarrheal disease, lower respiratory illnesses, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), inflammatory bowel disease, childhood leukemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, asthma, and atopic dermatitis, occur less frequently among children who were breastfed as infants” and “the health benefits of longer duration of breastfeeding may be most important for maternal outcomes. Studies and meta-analyses have confirmed the importance of breastfeeding >12 months on maternal health, as associated with decreasing maternal diabetes mellitus, hypertension, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.”
Lactation is enhanced by the support of our community, especially in the workplace. Businesses can be a great help to lactating parents as they strive to meet the needs of their families and employer. Later in August, employers or businesses that have supported breastfeeding or a breastfeeding employee will receive a certificate of recognition. While it might be too late to nominate an employer or business by the time you are reading this article, keep our community employers and businesses in mind throughout the year when it comes to breastfeeding support. Even more important than a certificate is a heartfelt thank you from an employee or customer.
WIC – Communitybridges.org/wic
World Breastfeeding Week – Worldbreastfeedingweek.org
Indigenous Milk Medicine Week – Facebook.com/IndigenousMilkMedicineWeek
Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Week – Facebook.com/APIBTF
Black Breastfeeding Week – Blackbreastfeedingweek.org