7 Easy Ways to Become a Breastfeeding Advocate
Becoming a breastfeeding advocate means not only understanding the incredible benefits that breast milk provides, but also recognizing the significant barriers to access and challenges that some communities face when it comes to breast milk feeding.
Medela is Committed to Babies and Moms Just Like You
At Medela, we strive to help all moms achieve their breast milk feeding goals and have long understood the life-giving benefits that breast milk can provide babies, moms, and communities. In fact, our destiny statement clearly defines the position we’ve dedicated ourselves to for nearly 60 years: “We exist to enhance mother and baby health through the life-giving benefits of breast milk”. This includes sharing and promoting these benefits to help ensure babies have the healthiest possible start in life while supporting moms in continued breast milk feeding.
Becoming a breastfeeding advocate means not only understanding the incredible benefits that breast milk provides, but also recognizing that there are significant barriers to access and historical obstacles caused by discrimination, racism, and societal divides that make breast milk feeding much more challenging for some communities. Understanding where and why these disparities exist and knowing the importance of outreach helps breast milk feeding experts like Medela to offer targeted support, access, and education while fostering a community of support. Helping to reduce these breastfeeding health disparities and supporting all moms on their unique breast milk feeding journeys is an equally important part of becoming a breastfeeding advocate.
How to Become a Breastfeeding Advocate
You may be wondering how you can help, mama – and the good news is that being a breastfeeding advocate really isn’t too challenging! Consider the following:
- Join a breastfeeding support group. Most large hospitals host breastfeeding support groups led by a lactation consultant or pediatric healthcare provider. Additionally, organizations like La Leche League and the United States Lactation Consultant Association have local groups and members in many major metropolitan areas. These groups can be an excellent resource for connecting with a lactation consultant or other nearby breast milk feeding experts. Being familiar with these resources and recommending them to mamas who might need a little extra support during their breastfeeding journey is a great – and simple! – way to be a breastfeeding advocate.
- Become a mentor. If you have the time and experience, you can also volunteer to be a breast milk feeding mentor through Medela’s exclusive mentorship program, where you can personally connect with and help a new mom as she prepares for and learns to breastfeed.
- Join the charge to #NormalizeBreastfeeding (on social media or in person). Use this hashtag on your social media accounts and share whatever information – and whichever images – you are most comfortable sharing with your followers. While many moms choose to share photos of themselves nursing or pumping for their little one, you can also share relevant quotes, statistics, or infographics if you’d rather.
- Learn about, and share, where and why breastfeeding disparities exist. The U.S. continues to make strides to improve breastfeeding, and maternal and infant health statistics. It is important to know that, despite improvements in breastfeeding initiation within the African-American and some Hispanic communities, these groups tend to be lower than others in overall length of breast milk feeding. This data is backed by information released by the CDC, as well as a 2016 Pediatrics study titled “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Breastfeeding”. These findings show several complex factors that influence individual breast milk feeding journeys.
While there is no one, easy solution to fix these disparities and best support breastfeeding moms, both the U.S. Surgeon General and the CDC have recommended collaborative actions and strategies that can be implemented to support communities and moms in initiating and continuing breast milk feeding.
- Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Learn more about this annual event, a powerful global campaign to raise awareness and galvanize action on themes related to breastfeeding by visiting waba.org/wbw, including ways that you can participate at home!
- Recognize National Breastfeeding Month and Black Breastfeeding Week. Learn more about these annual events, both of which take place each year in August. Find out what this year’s themes will be and how you can recognize, celebrate, and support these important events; help draw awareness to these campaigns; and join the conversations.
- Follow trusted organizations such as WHO and UNICEF supporting breast milk feeding around the world. Be sure to follow these organizations on your social media accounts and stay up-to-date on their recommendations and guidelines regarding breast milk feeding, including current campaigns, initiatives, or relevant programs or policies they may be supporting.
- BONUS Tip: Advocate for yourself and other breastfeeding parents at your workplace! Whether your workplace accommodates breastfeeding parents or still has a way to go, be sure to brush up on your rights as an employee and learn how you can start the conversation with your Human Resources department. Your future self - and other breastfeeding or soon-to-be breastfeeding parents - will thank you!
Most importantly, becoming a breastfeeding advocate is helping parents just like you feel empowered to breastfeed for as long as they choose. There are a ton of ways to join the conversation, such as by connecting with us (and other parents) on Facebook and Instagram, and learning about ways you can promote breast milk feeding within your local community. Despite the challenges and roadblocks that many moms experience through their breastfeeding journey, we can – and should – continue making a difference together.