Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Celebrating and Encouraging Breastfeeding

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, a celebration of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) that works to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding worldwide. WBW's 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding encourages all maternity service facilities to take specific actions to train staff, educate mothers, and eliminate barriers to achieving breastfeeding goals for all children.

Indeed, the barriers are widely present: BoobyTraps as Best for Babes calls them. They are "cultural and institutional barriers" that bombard moms and sabotage their efforts to nurse their children. Among these traps are institutional barriers such as hospitals offering inadequate support and expertise to new moms and cultural barriers including the discouragement nursing moms experience when attempting to feed their babies in public (or not so public) locations.

Nothing short of cultural, institutional, and political change is necessary to remedy the current climate around breastfeeding. Women not only need support and education about the benefits of breastfeeding their children, but also the awareness that it takes determination and commitment. Healthcare institutions need to preach true wellness and to actively discourage practices within their facilities that steer women away from what is truly best for their babes: breastmilk. That means moving formula out - out of gift bags for new moms, out of their usual protocol - no matter how unpopular. And women need aggressive laws in every state to protect their right to feed their children wherever they may be, at any time.

Breastfeeding is not just for lactation militants. It's for every mom and babe who is willing and able. It is not radical nor "hippie". Thanks to Best for Babes, it is increasingly chic and stylish! And it is normal. Moms from all walks of life, of all ages, are nursing their babies in all sorts of places. Watch our own inspiring video, Nursing Our Future, to see for yourself!

Celebrate breastfeeding this week. Nurse your babes or encourage someone who is nursing. Smile and say "great job" to a nursing mom. Share Nursing Our Future with a friend or future mom. Get involved in helping to overcome Booby Traps and help women - and babies - get support for a healthy start!

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