WBW 2021: Protect breastfeeding by protecting nurturing

As we reflect on this year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7 – “Protect Breastfeeding: A shared responsibility” – it is imperative that we understand that protecting breastfeeding requires us to normalize nurturing.

Nurturing parenting is invariably linked to breastfeeding. While not all mothers are able to breastfeed, we recognize that breastfeeding – and breastfeeding behaviors while giving a bottle – is one of nature’s best teachers of new parents in how to sensitively and consistently respond to their baby as well as learn to develop the reciprocity of a healthy relationship between parent and child.

Related: Nature’s case for breastfeeding

Largely due to cultural pressures, even when mothers are able to get breastfeeding off to a strong start, there is a sharp decline overall in breastfeeding rates in the weeks and months after childbirth. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), of which we are a member, has found that premature weaning tends to happen when mothers are without access to knowledgeable support while encountering problems with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding problems are common, making widespread access to breastfeeding support paramount. International Board Certified Lactation Counselors, La Leche League leaders, and other trained advocates are key players in not only breastfeeding education but also nurturing parenting. The early days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding serve as a crucial time when mothers and fathers learn how to parent…to relate to their baby with nurturing behaviors, or not.

Related: Who will Baby attach to?

These early parenting lessons, which set the stage for years of a secure or insecure mother-infant relationship, are often absorbed in a time of relative isolation.

Traditionally, support to new parents was provided by the family…particularly the new mother’s mother and grandmother. However, as society has changed, mother support must come from a wider circle. This is where community support enters.

A new mother and father may have access to lactation consultants, depending on their geographic location. Some trained health care providers are able to provide ongoing support between medical appointments for acute breastfeeding problems; many are limited by their funding. La Leche League International fills the gap by training mothers with personal breastfeeding experience to volunteer in their communities by offering mother-to-mother support that complements professional care.

Likewise, we provide training to become a Certified Attached at the Heart Parenting Educator to provide holistic support to mothers and fathers in your community as they learn how to incorporate nurturing into the parenting of their children.

Related: Find a parent educator

As certified parenting educators, we offer basic support and community resource referrals to help parents make the best decisions for their families while educating them on the research-backed ways of bringing nurturing into their parenting. We help mothers view breastfeeding within the context of the whole mother-infant relationship and family dynamic, and how the give-and-take interaction that builds the foundation of secure attachment can be applied beyond breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding naturally promotes nurturing parenting. Overcoming the challenges that may come with breastfeeding sets the stage for building resilience through nurturing parenting for years to come.

Ready for World Breastfeeding Week 2015?

wbw2015-logo-mAttachment Parenting International (API) is pleased to announce that we are taking part in World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7. Check daily for posts about how women are making breastfeeding work for them and supporting others in their motherhood journeys.

The 2015 theme of World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” This annual observance is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), which has issued this statement:

This World Breastfeeding Week, WABA calls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed.

wbw2015-elementThe WBW 2015 theme on working women and breastfeeding revisits the 1993 World Breastfeeding Week campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work, particularly the adoption of the revised International Labour Organization Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. At the workplace level, we have also seen more actions taken to set up breastfeeding- or mother-friendly workplaces including awards for breastfeeding-friendly employers, as well as greater mass awareness on working women’s rights to breastfeed.

The Innocenti Declaration (1990) recognized that breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development. There is much that remains to be done despite 25 years of hard work, particularly on the fourth Innocenti target that calls on governments to ‘…enact imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women and establish means for its enforcement.’

WABA calls for:

  1. Concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work, whether in the formal sector, non-formal sector, or at home
  2. Ratification and implementation of maternity protection laws and regulations by governments, in line with the ILO Maternity Protection Convention
  3. Inclusion of breastfeeding target indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

wbw2015-objWith the World Breastfeeding Week 2015 campaign, WABA and its partners at global, regional and national levels aim to empower and support all women, working in both the formal and informal sectors, to adequately combine work with childrearing, particularly breastfeeding. We define work in its broadest form from paid employment, self-employment, seasonal and contract work to unpaid home and care work.

Various strategies exist to support women working in your country or community from long-term actions to short-term actions. Together, we can make it work!

This week, API’s celebration of World Breastfeeding Week will honor a collection of inspiring mothers who are dedicated to supporting mothers in breastfeeding no matter their lifestyle choices. A few of the upcoming posts to look forward to:

  • A tribute to Martha Sears, coauthor of many of the Sears parenting books
  • The role breastfeeding plays in baby’s gut health and what that means for overall health not only in childhood but adulthood
  • The role of historical trauma in breastfeeding rates among tribal women.

Check in tomorrow, Aug. 1, for our first installment of 2015 World Breastfeeding Week!

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