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It’s World Breastfeeding Week: Here’s What You Can Do to Support Parents

Learn what role you play in the warm chain of support for breastfeeding and take action to ensure more health benefits for mom and baby.
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profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
Assistant Editor
Published
August 2, 2022
mother breastfeeding baby while sitting on bed in nursery room at home
Image: STUDIO TAURUS/Stocksy

The first day of August marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week and kicks off National Breastfeeding Month here in the US. Dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide, the organizers of World Breastfeeding Week rely on the efforts of everyday people to advocate for breastfeeding.

The backbone of World Breastfeeding Week is built on “the warm chain of support for breastfeeding.” This warm chain is comprised of different people across the health, community and workplace sectors that can provide support and care to mothers during the first 1000 days of their baby’s life. The more supported these parents are, the more likely they’ll be able to start and continue breastfeeding longer.

There are several “links” in this warm chain. You can identify yours by reviewing the information cards here. From pediatricians to young people, trade union workers and community members, there is a way for everyone to help parents along their breastfeeding journey. Once you know what your part in the warm chain is, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) provides you with concrete actions you can take to keep the chain of support strong.

As a member of the community, the WABA gives these actionable ways to support breastfeeding:

  1. Share your experiences of breastfeeding on social media, with your friends and in support groups if possible. Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different, but it helps to hear the struggles and victories of others so breastfeeding parents don’t feel isolated and alone. It also helps to combat misinformation by sharing evidence-based information on the benefits of breastfeeding with parents and friends.
  2. Connect parents with the resources they need. Educate yourself and others on the breastfeeding resources near you, including healthcare facilities with lactation consultants and breastfeeding support groups.
  3. Advocate for government and local business action to establish breastfeeding-friendly spaces and normalize breastfeeding in public.
  4. Encourage your employer to set up breastfeeding facilities at the workplace. Employers are required to provide time and a private place for mothers to pump or breastfeed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If your workplace doesn’t have a dedicated breastfeeding area, you have a right to request one.
  5. Collaborate with others to ensure a continuum of care in your community so that mom and baby have the support they need at the hospital, at home and at work.

While breastfeeding isn’t an option for some parents, the WABA hopes that by removing barriers, breaking down stigmas and providing support, more mothers will be able to breastfeed for longer. And this increase in breastfeeding has proven benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cites research showing that breastfeeding is linked to decreased rates of lower respiratory tract infections, severe diarrhea, ear infections and obesity. It is also often associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome and other protective effects.

In a recent update to the AAP’s breastfeeding guidelines, Joan Younger Meek, MD, summed it up best, saying, “Breastfeeding can be challenging for new parents, and support from their families, doctors and workplaces is essential.” The health benefits are vast and can be viewed as a long-term investment not only in a child’s development, but to public health as a whole.”

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