Reflections on National Breastfeeding Month 2021: Every Step of the Way

Another successful National Breastfeeding Month is complete! Thank you for embracing this year's theme, Every Step of the Way. I loved seeing how different organizations worked the theme and logo into their local, state, and national initiatives. It was wonderful to celebrate together.

Each week of National Breastfeeding Month brought innovative resources, events, and celebrations to the public through global and identity-focused observances. At USBC, we are always thrilled to amplify the weekly observances that support families throughout the nation.

This year, we worked to Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility during World Breastfeeding Week. We were fed through Nourishing Our Futures during Indigenous Milk Medicine Week (formerly Native Breastfeeding Week). The team was incredibly excited to support the very first national Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Breastfeeding Week, dedicated to the theme Reclaiming Our Tradition. Finally, the month closed out with reflection and purpose, as Black Breastfeeding Week asked us all to take The Big Pause: Collective Rest for Collective Power.

Please explore the social media pages for each weekly observance to find inspiring and engaging content you might have missed.

 

My team piloted an adaptable tool for coalitions to urge their governors to proclaim August as Breastfeeding Month in their state or territory. We were thrilled to see dozens of states, territories, counties, and cities release proclamations.

In August, we also saw the launch of an important new resource for the field, "Continuity of Care in Breastfeeding Support: A Blueprint for Communities," published by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). USBC was honored to partner with NACCHO to bring this exciting resource to fruition, and the blueprint launch is just the beginning. Be sure to bookmark www.breastfeedingcontinuityofcare.org to stay up to date on all the resources to come. When we focus on ensuring that human milk feeding support services are continuous, accessible, and coordinated and that community spaces are consistently supportive of lactation, we build a tightly woven safety net, ensuring that families have support every step of the way.

Unfortunately, National Breastfeeding Month was also met with resistance, including a prominently placed commercial milk formula advertisement timed to distract from the many community-driven events taking place across the country for National Breastfeeding Month.

The lactation field strives to provide compassionate, culturally congruent, and individualized care for every family and recognizes that – particularly in a nation without paid leave or universal workplace accommodations for milk expression – not all people will be able to start or continue breastfeeding even if they want to. Commercial milk formula has an undeniable role in infant feeding, but manipulative marketing practices that capitalize on the fears of new parents to increase market share should not.

This is just one of the many reasons why our collective work is so vital! Although infant feeding decisions are personal, we know that policy, system, and environmental factors impact the infant feeding experience and too often keep families from reaching their goals. 

USBC is continuing our ongoing commitment to embrace equity at the core of all our work. Thanks to funding from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, over the next five years, USBC will be coordinating stakeholders in developing and implementing a five-year plan to advance policy, systems, and environmental change solutions that will:

  • address inequities in human milk feeding;
  • increase access to lactation support;
  • enhance opportunities for collaboration and capacity building amongst breastfeeding coalitions and critical stakeholders.

This work is big and bold, and we will not be able to do it without the support of our member organizations, breastfeeding coalitions, and incredible partners. We will need you with us every step of the way. Thank you for celebrating a stellar National Breastfeeding Month 2021 with us, and I look forward to the positive change we will create together for families across the nation!

Onward,

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Nikia Sankofa

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