World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7

World Breastfeeding

The first week in August each year, advocates from over 175 countries come together in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) to "promote, protect, and support breastfeeding." WBW first began 22 years ago and although breastfeeding rates are increasing around the world, there is still room for improvement. Based on the Center for Disease Control's (CDC)  2013 Breastfeeding Report Card, California is one of the top three states with the highest rates of mothers who initiate breastfeeding, at 91.6%. However, as the months progress, the rates decrease to 71.3% at six months and 45.3% at 12 months. The CDC has concluded that a child's risk for obesity decreases each month he or she is breastfed; children who are breastfed for nine months have a 30% decreased risk.

Since breastfeeding can be challenging, maintaining high breastfeeding rates can only be accomplished by a collaborative multipronged approach. Women need support and encouragement from their obstetricians, hospitals, pediatricians, families, friends, communities, local businesses, and workplaces. The San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative promotes breastfeeding as the healthiest first food for children and encourages all partners to support breastfeeding through policy and environmental changes. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, here are some ways communities can  support breastfeeding:

  • Hospitals can join Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, and University of California San Diego Medical Center in receiving a "Baby-Friendly" designation through the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund. Baby Friendly Hospitals provide support for exclusive breastfeeding, train staff on supporting breastfeeding, and refuse to provide formula samples or coupons.
  • Businesses can display "Breastfeeding Welcomed Here" stickers on windows and doors and train employees on their breastfeeding policies.
  • Employers can update lactation accommodation policies to include model language and practices.
  • Early childcare providers can accept and properly store expressed breast milk and coordinate children's feeding schedules with the mother's schedule.
  • The media can promote benefits of breastfeeding to counteract infant formula marketing and advertisements.
  • Communities can provide clean, comfortable places for mothers to breastfeed.
  • Policymakers can increase funding for high qualify research on breastfeeding.

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