Every year from August 1 to August 7, people around the globe celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), this annual campaign raises awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers and works to support breastfeeding mothers and to normalize the practice.
The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding
There’s a reason breast milk is called liquid gold! It contains hormones and antibodies that fight infection, and many experts believe breastfed babies may experience fewer health problems. Also, breast milk packs just the right amount of protein, sugar, fat, and vitamins infants need to thrive. It’s the foundation of lifelong good health.
Whether you’re a breastfeeding mom or you just want to show your support for breastfeeding, here are eight ways to celebrate WBW.
1. Participate in the Global Big Virtual Latch On
Held on July 31st–August 2nd (the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of World Breastfeeding Week), The Global Big Latch On is celebrated across the world, and this year, you can attend any location virtually.
During The Big Latch On, moms breastfeed or express breast milk simultaneously, and participants are counted in the hopes of setting a new record.
The goals of The Big Latch On are to remove the stigma around breastfeeding, raise awareness of the benefits of breast milk, and provide a place for moms to build a support community.
Learn more about The Big Latch On and sign up for a virtual gathering here.
2. Share Your “Brelfies”
The rise of the “brelfie” (breastfeeding selfie) has been endorsed by none other than the World Health Organization. The United Nations called brelfies “a good way to break down any stigma about breastfeeding in public and spread the word about the importance of mother’s milk.” We agree.
If you’re a mom who pumps or hand expresses, you can participate by sharing images of yourself pumping or photos of the liquid gold you express.
3. Find the Right Bra Fit
Since nearly 80 percent of women wear a bra that doesn’t fit properly and bra size can change over time, WBW is a great time to measure (or remeasure) yourself. All you need to find the right size is a cloth tape measure or a piece of string and a ruler.
The right bra can make a world of difference by helping you maintain better posture, which reduces back and neck pain. Once you’ve found your correct bra size, encourage your friends to measure themselves too!
4. Thank a Nursing Mom
If you know a mom who’s nursing, make her day by writing her a message, commenting on a photo or post where she talks about breastfeeding, or sending her an old-fashioned card by mail. If you were a breastfed baby, thank your own mom!
If you’re a mom who pumps or nurses, don’t forget to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing work you’re doing to provide your baby the best nutrients possible (and maybe even treat yourself to a new nursing bra).
5. Find Time to Rejuvenate
Love this nursing dress? Meet Eleanora (she's bamboo)!
A supportive community is essential for a successful breastfeeding experience—and so is self-care. Nursing and pumping are physically and emotionally demanding. Fortunately, there are many ways to rejuvenate.
Try to make it a priority to find quiet time to relax and reflect. Spend some time away from the rest of the world by unplugging from social media and turning off your phone and TV. Relish those moments of bliss while you nurse, and enjoy the time with your little one.
6. Talk About Your Breastfeeding Experience
Breastfeeding rates in the US are rising, but only a little more than 50 percent of babies are still nursing at six months, and only one-third make it to one year.
Women in the US often don’t have the same support systems as women who live in other countries, like these women in Namibia. By sharing your journey, you can help normalize breastfeeding for other moms.
7. Join a Local Breastfeeding Class or Support Group
If you’ve struggled to get your baby to latch, you aren’t producing as much breast milk as you’d hoped to, or you’d just like to be around other breastfeeding mamas, look to the breastfeeding support systems within your local community.
Many hospitals and birthing centers offer breastfeeding classes and access to lactation consultants, who are trained to troubleshoot any problems and help make breastfeeding easier on both you and your child.
If in-person instruction isn’t possible, consider taking an online breastfeeding class from the safety (and comfort) of your own home. These classes typically have videos that illustrate proper positioning and technique. During Covid-19, many IBCLCs are also offering telemedicine appointments for breastfeeding support.
If you’re having breastfeeding challenges, rest assured there are many resources out there to assist you.
8. Feed Your Baby
You saw this one coming, right? The absolute best way to celebrate this week is to nourish the baby you love! No matter how you’re feeding your baby, you’re doing an amazing job, and you should celebrate all you do!