World Breastfeeding Week: Empower Parents – Enable Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every August 1-7 all around the globe. The theme for this year is “Empower Parents – Enable Breastfeeding”. #WBW2019 will protect, promote, and support breastfeeding through focus on families.

The triad of the parents and baby is flanked by the many partners of support needed to protect the family during this important time period.

In the US, we celebrate the whole month of August as National Breastfeeding Month, and the #NBM19 theme is “Breastfeeding: Support Changes Everything.”

It’s easy to tie these two themes together, when we think about our maternity and paternity leave practices. Families (moms, dads, partners) need time to support each other after the birth of a newborn, without the burdens of rushing back to work. Although the US does have the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that provides 12 weeks of job protected but unpaid leave, this can be difficult for low income families who need to return to work earlier to pay their bills, and many parents are ineligible (requires 1,250 hours worked in the past 12 months for a covered employer). The US is one of very few countries in the world without paid maternity and paternity leave policies, however, some AAP Chapters have developed State Leave policies. We believe Ohio should make this a priority for our own families.

We encourage you to become an advocate through social media – WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) has the tool kit, and all you need is a couple of minutes to make a difference.

The tool kit has hashtags, messages, GIFs, visuals and posts ready to go for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Do you have a personal account? Please use it to promote breastfeeding and support of parents. Your actions can make a difference.

The Pediatrician as Support. In addition to parental leave policies, YOU can be that support! Our AAP-recommended 3-5 day visit is the perfect time to see families when breastfeeding concerns may be at their peak. Did you know 60% of mothers do not reach their intended breastfeeding goals due to concerns about painful latch, not having enough milk, or concerns about medications? These are all situations for which we as pediatricians can provide some help. (Do you have the LactMed app on your phone?)

Wait, are you thinking that you don’t have the skills to help breastfeeding families? Almost 82% of Ohio mothers initiate breastfeeding on the last CDC survey, so it is important that we all learn to provide the best care possible. There are lots of training opportunities to help you become skilled in helping moms and babies breastfeed right in your practice. If you are coming to the NCE in 2019, check out the favorite “Practical Skills to Support Breastfeeding Mothers” and the many other breastfeeding educational events during the meeting. Our Section on Breastfeeding website has archived webinars covering many breastfeeding topics, and has many other resources to help you. Learn more about making your practice a “Breastfeeding Friendly Office Practice” here.

Disparities in breastfeeding persist in some areas of Ohio, however, and we need to do all we can to help all babies reach their potential starting with their first foods!  Our friends at 1000 Days say it best: “In a world filled with inequality, crises, and poverty, #breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong health for babies and mothers, ensuring they can survive and thrive.”

Contact your AAP Chapter Breastfeeding Coordinators, Julie Ware in Cincinnati or Lydia Furman in Cleveland at any time for help. We would love to assist you in any way that we can to support breastfeeding in your practices. Together, we CAN make a difference!

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This page is for practice managers and office employees to discuss issues they’re experiencing in their practices. Many problems that we hear about can help other practices, so we invite you to share best practices by posting issues and by responding to issues other practices are experiencing. This page is monitored by the Ohio AAP. Advice and opinions expressed on these discussion boards are the views of the poster and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ohio AAP. If you have any issues, questions, or feedback, please contact Melanie Farkas.