August 2021

Protecting Breastfeeding

A Shared Responsibility

By Laura Maxson, LM

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) joins with other organizations for 2021 World Breastfeeding Week: Protect Breastfeeding – A Shared Responsibility, August 1 – 7. Here in the USA, the entire month is dedicated to supporting breastfeeding. The remaining weeks have the following focuses: second week – Native Breastfeeding; third week – Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Breastfeeding week; and Black Breastfeeding week closes out the month. 

Locally, the first week of August would usually include a Health Fair and Breastfeeding Walk hosted by WIC and the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition, but not this year, as COVID is still impacting activities – so, what is happening?

Community Bridges, WIC, Watsonville Community Hospital, and Salud Para La Gente will host a drive through World Breastfeeding Week event at Watsonville Hospital on August 5, from 10am to 1pm. Goodie bags will be provided to the first 100 visitors, with an option to park and talk to participants if further information is desired.

County WIC participants can pick up their farmer’s market coupons at the Watsonville farmer’s market.

WABA has created The Warm Chain Campaign to encourage participation, as each person considers their role in the shared responsibility of protecting/supporting breastfeeding. This campaign places the mother-baby dyad at the center, but looks for links of awareness and support that can create a warm chain of support for breastfeeding throughout the first 1,000 days. This includes support for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, solid foods introduced during the second six months, with other milk introduced after one year as breastfeeding continues for two years and beyond, depending on every family’s desires. 

Our county’s Breastfeeding Coalition has asked local agencies and providers to post on social media about how they support breastfeeding as a shared responsibility.

Here are a few early responses (look for more online):
“We at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital protect breastfeeding by offering everyday breastfeeding support and education to our mothers and children throughout their breastfeeding experience. We help empower women and families to create connections and access breastfeeding resources within their communities.”
Sutter/PAMF Pediatric Department says: “We protect breastfeeding by providing the support, education, and resources needed to make each mother and child’s feeding experience a positive one.”

The Warm Chain Campaign includes informational cards for the many different links in the chain. Midwives, obstetricians, pediatricians, dieticians, and lactation support workers are obvious links in the breastfeeding support chain. However, the campaign makes a point of identifying other areas of support. Each printable card begins with the same basic support information then adds on specific suggestions relating to the entity offering support.
Below are a few examples. 

Trade Unions
“Ensure that pregnant and nursing workers’ health, maternity, paternity and parental rights are given priority in the union and workplace. Develop and review parental social protection policies at work and advocate to governments for implementation and strengthening of policies in line with the minimum ILO standards… Negotiate collective bargaining agreements on paid leave, health and safety, medical assistance, job security and protection from discrimination, suitable facilities as well as breastfeeding breaks when returning to work, among others.” 

“Ensure that appropriate and adequate information on breastfeeding is included in curricula taught in your institution. Prioritise research in breastfeeding. Support the dissemination and implementation of research evidence in breastfeeding to relevant stakeholders and the public at large. Empower [parents] with strategies to enable them to combine breastfeeding and work. Work together with others to ensure a continuum of care for the mother-baby dyad.”

“Advocate to align policies on breastfeeding with environment/climate initiatives and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Reinforce the message that breastfeeding contributes to food security and planetary health. Engage school children, students, youth and social media influencers to include breastfeeding as a sustainable food when discussing environment and climate issues. 

Member of Your Community
“Actively share your experiences of breastfeeding and the latest evidence-based information with parents and friends through social media or breastfeeding support groups. Advocate to government and local businesses to establish breastfeeding-friendly spaces and normalize breastfeeding in public. Share evidence-based information on the importance of breastfeeding and the danger of uncontrolled distribution of infant formula and breastmilk substitutes. Empower parents with strategies to enable them to combine breastfeeding and work. Encourage your employer to set up breastfeeding facilities at the workplace. 

We all have a shared responsibility to protect and support breastfeeding in our communities – families are depending on it.
WABA Warm Chain Campaign 
National Breastfeeding Month
SCC Breastfeeding Coalition Social Media Campaign
Breastfeeding help

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