In 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee officially declared that August is National Breastfeeding Month (NBM). This year, the theme for National Breastfeeding Month was Action Across America: A Social Media Advocacy Campaign to Support Breastfeeding Families. The campaign targeted the following four topic areas (one for each week of August), aligned with current legislative opportunities to overcome the barriers to breastfeeding success through strategic policy and systems change: Peer Counseling, Paid Family Leave, Maternity Care Practices, and Employer Support. The USBC provided templates for each topic area for individual advocates and organizations to use to participate in social media and legislative action. The campaign also used the hashtag #NBM13 to have a presence on social media sites.
Similarly, the first week of August was World Breastfeeding Week. This year, the theme for the week was Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. It highlighted breastfeeding peer counseling. The objectives were 1) to draw attention to the importance of Peer Support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding; 2) to inform people of the highly effective benefits of Peer Counseling, and unite efforts to expand peer counseling programs; 3) to encourage breastfeeding supporters, regardless of their educational background, to step forward and be trained to support mothers and babies; 4) to identify local community support contacts for breastfeeding mothers, that women can go to for help and support after giving birth; and 5) to call on governments and maternity facilities globally to actively implement the Ten Steps, in particular Step 10, to improve duration and rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week, the Mary Amelia Women’s Center worked with the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition and launched our own campaign. We call it the Nola Mom Campaign. We believe that a Nola Mom is one who wears many hats, such as being a mother, a wife, and an employee. She does all she can to ensure that her baby is healthy and given the best care available, but sometimes barriers get in the way. We want to help all of the Nola Moms out there overcome some of these barriers, one step at a time.
We thought that it would be appropriate for the first step to be centered on breastfeeding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card, Louisiana has jumped four spots this year, marking solid progress in the state’s support of breastfeeding. In total, more than 60% of infants in Louisiana have been breastfed at some point in their lives, which is up 7% from last year. This improvement helped Louisiana move up to the 44th spot on the report card. While this is a big accomplishment for the state, there is still a long way to go.
We believe workplace lactation programs could help our breastfeeding rates improve even more. Under the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers must give their breastfeeding hourly employees time to pump breastmilk while at work and a private clean space to do so that is not a bathroom. It was our goal to inform employers and working mothers of this right, so we put up signs on buses and in bus shelters around New Orleans with the statement “Your employer is required to support breast feeding.” We also made a website (www.nolamom.org) that has more information about the law for both employers and working moms. We look forward to exploring different topics through the Nola Mom Campaign.
Click here to see our bus shelter sign.
by Haley Binder