World Breastfeeding week began on Aug. 1 and runs through Aug. 7, and many public health agencies celebrated it with a variety of community events to raise awareness around breastfeeding efforts locally and globally.
This year’s theme was “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life” since breastfeeding provides health benefits for baby and mother while fostering bonding, according to health officials.
One local agency, the Tulare County Health & Human Services’ Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) program hosted a breastfeeding awareness social for pregnant, new, and breastfeeding mothers and their families on Aug. 3, at the Oak Street Fitness Studio in downtown Visalia.
The event coincided with the First Friday Art Hop and featured demos and videos on Babywearing+TRX and Mother-Baby Yoga, fresh smoothie sampling, breast pump assembling as well as lactation consultants and fitness trainers who were available to answer questions.
In Fresno County, the Babies First Breastfeeding Task Force hosted the 13th annual Breastfeeding Awareness Walk and Celebration on Aug. 4, at Woodward Park’s Lake View Shelter.
The walk also hosted the Big Latch-On, a worldwide breastfeeding event where all Latch-On sites in the United States aim to set a new record for the most women breastfeeding simultaneously for one minute.
This year 34 mothers participated in the Latch-On in Fresno, according to Michelle Rivera, Health Education Specialist and Public Health Communication with Fresno County Department of Public Health.
The goal of the walk was to increase awareness, promote employer support of breastfeeding moms, reduce stigma and recognize breastfeeding as a “First Step to a Healthy Life.”
The total count for the Breastfeeding Walk on Aug. 4, was 386 participants which included adults, teenagers, and children, 45 community sponsors and 26 vendors, said Rivera.
Nationwide, the United State Department of Agriculture proclaimed Aug. 1-7 as National WIC Breastfeeding Week and also launched a new campaign entitled “WIC Breastfeeding Support – Learn Together. Grow Together” to promote and support breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for a baby’s first year of life.
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)‘s research-based social marketing breastfeeding campaign encourages moms who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to breastfeed their babies and provides them with support and expertise to help them succeed.
“Each month, WIC serves almost 7 million low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and their young children,” said Brandon Lipps, USDA’s acting deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “The new WIC Breastfeeding Support campaign will educate new moms on the many benefits of breastfeeding and connect them with helpful resources and support.”
The campaign is designed for implementation at the state and local levels of WIC and it includes a revamped website with resources for expectant and current mothers. Whether the user is learning about breastfeeding, beginning to breastfeed, overcoming common challenges, or thriving, the site has the information WIC moms need to make breastfeeding work for their family.
“As a father of four, I’ve witnessed the importance of having a strong network in helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals,” Lipps said. “WIC is there to help new moms every step of the way.”
Lipps added that USDA supports all WIC mothers – breastfeeding or not – and helps them ensure their infants have a healthy start in life.
State and local WIC agencies will have access to downloadable resources and materials to share with participants and partners, including posters, educational materials, videos and resources tailored for moms, dads, grandparents and the support network of infant caregivers.
WIC also supports breastfeeding mothers in other ways, including an enhanced food package to meet their unique nutritional needs, breastfeeding and nutrition education and guidance, WIC breastfeeding peer counselors, and referrals to other health and social services. Additionally, WIC Designated Breastfeeding Experts are available to work with WIC moms to address breastfeeding challenges. Services are delivered through approximately 1,900 local agencies and 10,000 clinic sites.