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World Breastfeeding Week 2022 - What You Can Do To Step Up for Breastfeeding

Written by Katie Cohen, BSN, RN, IBCLC

Each year during the first week of August, the global lactation community celebrates World Breastfeeding Week. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2022, “Step up for Breastfeeding,” focuses on bringing together communities, health systems, workplaces, and governments to protect, promote, strengthen, and support breastfeeding.

Families may face challenges along their breastfeeding journeys. A critical piece of the WBW 2022 campaign is to build a village of support around breastfeeding parents, called the “Warm Chain of Support for Breastfeeding.” This includes lactation consultants, other healthcare providers, family members, community members, employers, environmentalists, governments and other support. The Warm Chain provides support to parents throughout their breastfeeding journey- from prenatal education and anticipatory guidance through weaning support. The Warm Chain also works behind-the-scenes to advocate for and protect breastfeeding at the local, national, and global levels. 

What is my role in the Warm Chain of Support of Breastfeeding, and how can I Step Up?

While the Warm Chain includes actors at all levels and on a global scale, there are two key categories of breastfeeding support that we will discuss specifically in this article: healthcare and community support. 

  1. Community support for breastfeeding includes employers, partners, and members of the community
  2. Healthcare support includes lactation consultants, women’s health providers, and pediatric providers

If you fall into either (or both!) of these categories, here is what you can do to help Step Up for Breastfeeding, according to our own Nest Collaborative International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

Breastfeeding Support in the Community Setting:

Fathers and Partners are a vital part of a breastfeeding team. When the breastfeeding parent feels supported by a partner who is loving, caring, and involved, breastfeeding is often more successful. As a father or partner you can:

  • Work together with the breastfeeding parent as equal partners in a parenting team and set breastfeeding goals together as a family. Inform family members about your breastfeeding goals and ask for support as needed.
  • Learn about the importance of breastfeeding and how it works from reputable sources. A prenatal and postpartum lactation consultation with a Nest Collaborative IBCLC is a great place to start, and partners are always encouraged to participate in visits. Seek help from your lactation consultant or a trusted healthcare provider right away if you encounter breastfeeding challenges. Community support groups, including Nest Collaborative’s own Latch Lounge virtual support group, are also an excellent resource.
  • Communicate with the breastfeeding parent regularly and pay attention to when and how your partner wants you to be involved in breastfeeding. Trust your partner – sometimes all that is needed is moral support and encouragement.
  • Create an environment at home that is conducive for breastfeeding. Share domestic tasks in and around the home to give the breastfeeding parent time to focus on breastfeeding.
  • Build your own unique bond with your baby during exclusive breastfeeding by actively interacting, carrying, cuddling and caring for your baby. Partners can also help by burping and soothing the baby back to sleep after feedings. For parents that choose to incorporate bottle feeding, partners can also help by preparing and feeding bottles.  After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, both parents can share in feeding solid foods.
  • Discuss with your partner ways to allocate and manage maternity or parental leave and how to access workplace support to enable optimal breastfeeding.
  • Normalize breastfeeding by actively sharing your breastfeeding experience with other parents and friends. Support breastfeeding in public places.

Members of the Community play a critical role in supporting breastfeeding by normalizing and accepting breastfeeding, and by promoting and advocating for breastfeeding as part of a healthy society, which has a positive impact on infant feeding choices. As a community member, you can:

Employers and Trade Unions can Step Up For Breastfeeding by protecting and advocating for the rights of breastfeeding parents in the workplace, and by supporting working families. As an employer you can:

  • Ensure that pregnant and nursing workers’ health, maternity, paternity and parental rights are given equitable treatment in the workplace.
  • Develop and review parental social protection policies at work and advocate to governments for implementation and strengthening of policies in line with the minimum International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.
  • Negotiate collective bargaining agreements on paid leave, health and safety, medical assistance, job security and protection from discrimination, suitable facilities as well as breastfeeding breaks when returning to work.
  • Ensure the implementation of parental social protection policies and programs at the workplace and elsewhere.
  • Disseminate information widely, educate workers and train union representatives on parental social protection, breastfeeding issues and rights.
  • Connect with networks and allies at the national and global levels to ensure breastfeeding rights are included as a key element of the universal social protection campaign.

Breastfeeding Support in the Healthcare Setting:

Pediatric Providers have a strong impact on families’ infant feeding decisions. In June 2022, The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new position statement in favor of the continuation of breastfeeding beyond one year of age. With increased breastfeeding duration comes increased need for breastfeeding support in the pediatric setting. As a pediatric provider you can:

  • Ask about breastfeeding at every visit.
  • Inform families about the importance of breastfeeding for short- and long-term health.
  • Use evidence-based information to address queries about the effects of maternal medication on the breastfeeding infant.
  • Avoid recommending the use of infant formula without a medical indication.
  • Empower mothers with strategies to enable them to combine breastfeeding and work.
  • Eliminate the distribution of free formula samples that undermine breastfeeding per the WHO International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes.
  • Work together with Lactation Consultants to ensure a continuum of care for the mother-baby dyad. See below or contact us for more information on how Nest Collaborative’s IBCLCs can help support breastfeeding families in your practice.

Birth Providers, such as obstetricians and midwives, can play an active role in supporting breastfeeding before, during, and after the birth to help families reach their infant feeding goals. As a birth provider you can:

  • Inform mothers and families antenatally about the benefits and management of exclusive and continued breastfeeding, and about what happens at the time of birth and soon after.
  • Ask about any breast surgeries and any previous breastfeeding difficulties during the obstetric history/examination.
  • Enable mother to achieve her ideal birthing experience:
    • Encourage a partner and/or birth companion to support her birth.
    • Adopt a preferred position during labor and delivery.
    • Avoid unnecessary separation and medical procedures.
    • Support the “golden hour” by ensuring skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery and allowing uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for the first hour or until the baby breastfeeds.
  • Avoid unnecessary cesarean and instrumental deliveries as well as other routine procedures unless medically indicated.
  • Keep up-to-date information on individual medications to avoid inappropriate advice that can lead women to discontinue breastfeeding unnecessarily. 
  • Provide parents with contact information for lactation support services before they discharge from the maternity facility. Nest Collaborative’s IBCLCs are available for online video-enabled lactation consultations 7 days a week and often same-day, regardless of geographic location. Please see below or contact us for more information.
  • Support mothers to establish an adequate breastmilk supply including in vulnerable or emergency situations.
  • Empower mothers with strategies to enable them to combine breastfeeding and work.
  • Eliminate the distribution of free formula samples that undermine breastfeeding per the WHO International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes

Lactation Consultants, such as Nest Collaborative’s IBCLCs, are allied health professionals who are experts in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Skilled lactation care is a critical component of improving breastfeeding rates and supporting families at the individual, local, national, and global level. As IBCLCs, we pledge to:

  • Empower parents to achieve their breastfeeding goals and assist with any difficulties.
  • Provide information and training on the science of lactation and clinical management of breastfeeding.
  • Provide skilled lactation support for mothers during their breastfeeding journey, and help them to  overcome difficulties.
  • Apply a holistic health model to monitor growth and development (baby) and health and well-being (parent).
  • Facilitate the development of programs, research and policies to support breastfeeding and lactation.
  • Empower mothers with strategies to enable them to combine breastfeeding and work. 
  • Work together with others to ensure a continuum of care for the breastfeeding dyad.

How Nest Collaborative Is Stepping Up to Support Breastfeeding

At Nest Collaborative, we are committed to changing the paradigm of breastfeeding care, so that every family has access to evidence-based advice, support, and guidance to help reach their breastfeeding goals. Skilled lactation care is an essential component of the Warm Chain of Support for Breastfeeding, but access to care is a barrier for many families. Through Nest Collaborative’s online video visits, our IBCLCs are able to reach families who would otherwise be unable to access this level of care due to geographic or financial barriers. As soon as families submit their active private insurance or medicaid information to us, our services are available with no out-of-pocket cost (no co-pay, no deductible). For self-pay and uninsured families, we charge a discounted rate of $99/visit. We also partner with other members of the Warm Chain, such as healthcare systems, health insurance companies, birth providers, and pediatric providers to improve communication and collaboration, provide support, and promote breastfeeding.

Nest Collaborative recognizes that families come in many forms. Some of the original language in this article from https://waba.org.my/warm-chain/ has been adapted for context and inclusivity. For more information on World Breastfeeding Week 2022 and the Warm Chain of Support for Breastfeeding, please visit https://worldbreastfeedingweek.org

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