Happy World Breastfeeding Week! What a great time to be a mother - it's 2018 and absolutely no one has any weird hangups that create societal pressure that undermines healthy breastfeeding practices! Yay!
That was sarcasm, by the way. Well, the part about no one having hangups - not the part where I wished you a happy World Breastfeeding Week. This year's focus is on sustainability. The slogan? "Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life." This intentionally points to the impact that breastfeeding can have on childhood nutrition - in any circumstance, in any walk of life.
One of my favorite aspects of this year's campaign is the logo. You see two adults, one nursing an infant. This triad represents the importance of community and personal support needed to maintain a productive nursing relationship. From the three people stems a line that sprouts into three leaves - this represents the intertwined connections between breastfeeding, food security, and poverty. The symbolism is beautiful, well-thought-out, and powerful.
On its face, celebrating World Breastfeeding Week seems simple - just breastfeed your child (if you can, if you have a nursling!). Do it publicly, do it unashamedly, and do it whenever your baby is hungry. But the focus of this year's campaign touched my heart and made me think of all the indirect ways we can support healthy breastfeeding relationships. Not just our own, mind you, but for all mothers and infants around the globe. Because no child should ever die from malnourishment - and nursing is a wonderful stop-gap to that end.
So how can we go beyond our own breastfeeding efforts to support others who want to nurse their children?
It starts with our attitudes! If you see another person shaming a nursing mother, or judging someone who has chosen to extended-nurse, shut it down. Be the insulation between the nursing person and that negativity. It might not be comfortable, but it's really critical that we look out for each other. Did you know that even a few judging words can make a mother's milk supply dip? And if supply dips, it's a lot of work to restore. Protect one another from the haters.
Create a safe space for nursing mothers! In your workplace, ask about your policy for women who are pumping on the job. Advocate for a well-equipped and comfortable space for them to do the deed. Even just adding a nice chair and a mini-fridge says the company values nursing moms.
While it might seem overwhelming, find a way to get involved with a non-profit that works to provide clean drinking water in a third world country. Dehydration and waterborne illnesses can severely undermine a nursing relationship. Some organizations even offer midwifery and doula services for expectant mothers. For the upcoming gift-giving holidays, you can actually purchase a birth support package for a mom in a third-world country! Having a positive start in life lays the foundation for a smoother transition into breastfeeding.
If you'd rather keep your support local, educate yourself on available lactation support services. Join a La Leche League group meeting regularly! Better yet, carry a few lactation consultant cards with you to give to new moms. If you've got the capacity to buy private lactation consultations sessions for a struggling mom, do it! You can change so many lives if you share that kind of education and support with others in the mommy community around you.
Can you think of other ways to support the community of mothers who choose to breastfeed? Tell me more on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #WorldBreastfeedingWeek.