World Breastfeeding Week has officially begun! Starting August 1st and going on until August 7th, this week is the kickoff for National Breastfeeding MONTH which is recognized through the entirety of August.
What is World Breastfeeding Week?
Although it is a celebration, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is actually an international campaign used to raise awareness of all things breastfeeding-related. A global organization called the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) set out to “protect, promote and support” breastfeeding starting in the early 90’s. They are the pioneers of WBW and utilize it as a tool to inform and engage the public on ongoing breastfeeding issues. Since 2016, WBW themes have been in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (dubbing it the WBW-SDGs campaign).
Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility
The objective for WBW 2021 is to protect breastfeeding. What does this mean, exactly? Breastfeeding mothers should feel that their goals for nourishing their child should not be hindered by their environment. Lactation pods in the airport or a mother’s lounge in a department store (I see you, Nordstrom!) are great examples of how breastfeeding is “protected.” Allowing working mothers to have adequate maternity leave is protecting breastfeeding. The disclaimer on formula cans that states that breast milk is best (although I think we can all agree that FED is best), is a form of protection for breastfeeding as well. As a labor and delivery nurse, I have been trained to encourage the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth as well as provide support and education–all which fall in line with the WBW campaign.
A Message to the Moms
All of the organizations under the sun–the World Health Organization, WABA, UNICEF, etc.–have spearheaded these wonderful movements that have helped to inform and encourage mothers to breastfeed based on the benefits it provides. This being said, any amount of breastfeeding, from a single attempted latch a few hours after birth to a second year of “extended” breastfeeding are selfless sacrifices worth celebrating. Breastfeeding is great. Breastfeeding is hard. But breastfeeding, though amazing, is not a measure of your value as a mother. This may be against the idea of “protecting” breastfeeding, but I had to say it!