World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated August 1-7 each year. The Global Big Latch On, a three day event offering moms a chance globally to latch and be counted, is celebrating its 10th year this year. In 2018, 28 countries and over 21,000 women participated in this event to raise awareness for lactating moms. This year, a virtual latch option is available as well for moms who cannot attend a local event.
One of the key components of breastfeeding is to provide support thus empowering parents and families during their breastfeeding journey. Studies clearly indicate moms who feel supported will breastfeed longer, tend to supplement with formula less, and report a more positive experience with nursing overall.
How can your family support your breastfeeding journey?
- While mom is nursing, it is important to be available to bring items- extra snacks, water, or maybe even diapers/wipes.
- Offer to burp, change, snuggle, rock, bathe, or put them down for a nap.
- If mom is pumping, they can give one of the night time feedings so mom’s sleep is uninterrupted.
- Cook/Clean and take over daily home tasks for mom to be able to rest. Set up a meal train from community members.
- Encourage mom to seek support and be willing to go with mom to those appointments. Another listening ear can often help at those appointments.
How should your healthcare provider support your breastfeeding journey?
- Provide resources and be a resource for any breastfeeding concerns.
- Encourage your choice with breastfeeding,
- Give you the option of seeing an international board certified lactation consult (IBCLC)
- Have access to resources to determine which medications are safe with lactation. And, give you appropriate education concerning these medications.
- Provide a list of local resources, support groups/options for moms.
How should society support your breastfeeding journey?
- Provide areas for mom to pump or feed if she desires.
- Work to make breastfeeding in public a social norm.
- Workplaces must provide moms with a place to pump upon their return to work as well as breaks to pump.
The most important advice I give moms- Take time for yourself to rest and recover; allow other family members or friends to help you; and seek support. Breastfeeding can be challenging, but with adequate support and a little assistance, moms are usually able to overcome these challenges and breastfed successfully. I also encourage moms to remember- make certain you are positive when referring to breastfeeding. One of the most disheartening comments I hear from moms- “I only breastfed for x amount of time.” Instead, moms and society should say “I breastfed for x amount of time!” If that is one week or three years, be proud of your accomplishment. You’ve worked hard and deserve recognition.