August 1-7, 2017 is the silver (25th) anniversary celebration of World Breastfeeding Week. The 2017 theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding - Together. It is championed by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and recognized around the globe. There are four objectives of this year's World Breastfeeding Week:
1. Inform – Understand the importance of working together across the four Thematic Areas
a. Thematic Area 1: Nutrition, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction
b. Thematic Area 2: Survival, Health, and Well-Being
c. Thematic Area 3: Environment and Climate Change
d. Thematic Area 4: Women's Productivity and Employment
2. Anchor – Recognise your role and the difference you make within your area of work
3. Engage – Reach out to others to establish areas of common interest
4. Galvanize – Work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030
Breastfeeding Report Card
The most recent Breastfeeding Report Card was issued in 2016. The assessment of how well the United States is meeting breastfeeding goals is released every two years by the Centers for Disease Control. The 2016 report provides a lot of valuable information all the way down to the state. Four out five newborns born in 2013 (most recent year available) started to breastfeed. Despite these high initiation rates, most of the states are not meeting the Healthy People 2020 goals of duration and exclusivity.
Montana is in the best shape with 60.7% of infants exclusively breastfeeding at three months. Mississippi comes in at the bottom with 21.4% of infants exclusively breastfeeding at three months. Montana remains in the number one spot with 33.8% of infants continuing to be breastfed at six months of age. Unfortunately, Mississippi stays at the bottom with 9.3% of their six-month-old infants still exclusively breastfed. You can find out your state's rankings by following this link here.
Childbirth educators have a key role
Childbirth educators and other birth professionals play a key role in sharing information and instruction on breastfeeding a newborn. Helping families to know what to expect, what the feeding needs of their newborn will be and where to get help when nursing challenges arise is a key component of normalizing breastfeeding for new families.
Childbirth educators teach about breastfeeding throughout a childbirth series, from the first class when breast anatomy and breast changes are covered, through the immediate post birth "golden hour" and on through newborn needs and early parenting. This spiraling of the curriculum helps families to hear the important message about the benefits of breastfeeding and retain the need to know facts. When the time comes to hold the "breastfeeding class," many of the concepts have already been introduced.
Childbirth educators can also play a critical role after a baby is born, by making themselves available as a referral source for lactation help from local hospitals and private lactation consultants. When families are instructed to reach out if breastfeeding support is needed, the new dyad can get the help they need to continue to breastfeed.
Resources for WBW
WABA and World Breastfeeding Week have made many resources available for educators to use in class, on their websites, and in marketing materials. This includes the logos and other web-ready content. These resources and press kits are available in nine different languages which make it a valuable tool for the international community. Additionally, you can download and create your own breastfeeding supportive message from these templates here.
You can join thousands of other committed individuals around the world in support of World Breastfeeding Week by pledging to promote breastfeeding in your community. Adding your name and location here helps show what a difference we can all make if we do our part.
Lamaze resources for WBW and beyond
Lamaze International has resources for educators to download and use in our professional resources section. Downloading infographics, worksheets and other information on breastfeeding is a great way to make use of these valuable resources. Also, our parent smartphone app, Pregnancy to Parenting can be shared with families too. It includes a breastfeeding section that can help nursing families start off right.
How are you observing WBW?
What are you doing in your community to honor and celebrate World Breastfeeding Week? Let us know in the comments below. We are excited to hear all the wonderful efforts that educators and others are putting forth to support breastfeeding families.