August 1-7 was designated as World Breastfeeding Week, which has an annual theme. This year’s theme was “Step Up For Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.” The theme aims to inspire the community to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding/chestfeeding across different levels of society.”
National Breastfeeding Month also has an annual theme. This year’s theme is very appropriately “Together We Do Great Things.” The campaign emphasizes the importance of “working together to make change” through “daily effort by us all.”
Whether you breastfed/chestfed for a day, a month, or a year and beyond, this is for you. Or maybe you haven’t breastfed/chestfed at all, but you wanted to, hope to in the future, or you support a loved one who does. This is for you too. Breastfeeding week and month are for everyone! We all play important roles, even if we aren’t on our own breastfeeding/chestfeeding journeys currently.
Successful breastfeeding/chestfeeding is a community effort. Yes, it’s great to talk about all the benefits of breastfeeding/chestfeeding (and we love to share them!), but a successful breastfeeding/chestfeeding dyad isn’t born out of simply knowing how beneficial it can be. The health benefits of breastfeeding (for both the lactating person and the child) are absolutely plentiful, but that only means so much if a person doesn’t have the support they need to reap those benefits. And that support needs to come from many levels, from your social group to your workplace, to your government and society.
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is natural, but it is a labor of more than just love. Without adequate support, access to resources, and confidence, it doesn’t matter how well a lactating parent knows the benefits on paper, or how badly they want breastfeeding/chestfeeding to work.
What matters is the support and community a person has to lean on and learn from. It’s having providers that support you in your choices. It’s having a support group where you can feel a little less alone in the difficult parts. It’s having friends and family who you can call in the middle of the night with questions. It’s your partner cheering you along and supporting you during your journey. It’s having a workplace that is breastfeeding friendly and supportive of you pumping comfortably. It’s having access to affordable healthcare. It’s your insurance company covering quality pumps. It’s your community viewing breastfeeding as natural, normal, and valuable.
The way we view and support breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents as a community and culture is so important. From giving a supportive smile to a breastfeeding/chestfeed parent at the store to protecting the legislature that allows breastfeeding in public, the ways we show up matter. The cumulative effect of all the big and small efforts we make are powerful.
At Best Start, we aim to encourage you to try breastfeeding (virtually all of our babies are breastfeed at discharge!), give you the tools to feel confident, and provide ongoing support. We’re proud to empower our clients to breastfeed and hope that this year’s theme can inspire others to support breastfeeding in the community, too.