It’s clear that working parents are more successful with their breast/chestfeeding goals when they are given adequate support. Pressures to get back to earning a paycheck often compete with the ability to get breastfeeding firmly established
Not enough parents qualify for paid maternity leave, with some back to work even before the typical six weeks given by state disability. While there are supportive employers out there, many workplaces ignore the needs of their breastfeeding employees, making pumping and storing milk at work difficult. While the California Breastfeeding Coalition works with parents who feel their employers are ignoring state and federal guidelines for lactation support at work, not every parent is motivated to push back.
This is one reason that each August is designated Breastfeeding Awareness month in the United States. Parents and the public, including employers, can become more aware of ways to support breastfeeding families. Each week focuses on a different aspect of lactation support. Not all the themes for the individual weeks were available in time to make it into this article, but updated information can be found at www.usbreastfeeding.org.
•Week 1, (August 1-7) is the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s World Breastfeeding Week. This year’s global theme is, Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents. There are many ways to support lactating parents at work. It is well known that parents with supportive maternity leave of three months or more experience a longer duration of breastfeeding. Workplace challenges are a common reason for breastfeeding to end prematurely or to not be initiated at all.
•Week 2 (August 8-14), is Indigenous Milk Medicine Week
•Week 3 (August 15-21) is Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week.
•Week 4 (August 25-31) is Black Breastfeeding Week. Theme: We Outside!: Celebrating Connection & Our Communities
• Week 5 (September 5-11) is Lactancia Latina
Many local organizations and agencies in Santa Cruz County enthusiastically work to support breastfeeding families year-round, but especially during Breastfeeding Awareness Month. After missing a few years due to the pandemic, everyone is eager for the Community Bridges WIC sponsored Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk, to resume once again this year. Families typically have a blast at the free breastfeeding awareness celebration.
The 16th Annual Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk event takes place on Friday, August 11, at the Watsonville Plaza (Main St. & East Beach St.) from 3-6pm. Local agencies and nonprofits will provide information and fun activities for the public incorporating education and support around breastfeeding and other health/baby related topics. The drawing for door prizes is a highlight of the day. Everyone gets a free T-shirt while supplies last.
Families are then invited to join agencies and organizations in a short but lively “Walk for Breastfeeding” through downtown Watsonville to raise breastfeeding awareness.
Of course, every situation is different and not everyone is able to breastfeed their baby. Human milk donations help many babies to thrive. As a new addition this year the event will also serve as a donor human milk drive. San Jose’s Mother’s Milk Bank will collect donated milk and provide information to those interested in becoming a donor or receiving human milk for their baby. Frozen breast milk may be brought to the event for donation. Those interested in getting pre-screened for donations can call donor services at 1-877-375-6645, choose option 3, or connect at www.mothersmilk.org/donate-milk.
Each year, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and Breastfeeding Awareness, Community Bridges WIC and the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition put out a call for nominations of local employers that are making working and breast/chestfeeding easier for families in our communities. Those employers chosen for recognition will be announced at the event. Together we can help build a supportive breastfeeding community.
By Laura Maxson