National Breastfeeding Month is a time when communities and health organizations work together to extol the many health benefits of breastfeeding — both for the nursing mother and baby — to celebrate the natural and healthful bond between a new mother and her infant. It’s also a fantastic reason to advocate for even more societal support for breastfeeding.
History of National Breastfeeding Month
The recognition of National Breastfeeding Month began with a worldwide reawakening of the immense health benefits of breastfeeding.
A new breastfeeding movement, La Leche League International, was formed in 1956. This organization was started by mothers at a church picnic. It quickly grew into a global entity dedicated to offering support and getting information out to the public about breastfeeding techniques, benefits, and equipment.
In 1981, the World Health Organization (WHO) took a significant step toward reigniting the interest in breastfeeding by voting to restrict infant formula advertisements. Their statement was a splash of cold water, reminding formula manufacturers, doctors, and new parents about the importance of breast milk. This move was met with a bit of resistance in some quarters, however, it quickly became a turning point in public health policy.
The officially-celebrated National Breastfeeding Month came much later, on August 6, 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee designated this month. This committee was formed in 1995 with a noble goal — to coordinate breastfeeding activities and support across the U.S.
National Breastfeeding Month finally recognized the need for a dedicated month to focus on promoting breastfeeding, educating others, and supporting nursing mothers.
How to Celebrate National Breastfeeding Month
Learn More and Educate Others About Breastfeeding
One of the most meaningful ways to celebrate National Breastfeeding Month is to get educated and inform others about the many healthy benefits of breastfeeding. Share information on social media, attend workshops or participate in community events focusing on breastfeeding education. Knowledge is power, so spreading awareness can help destigmatize breastfeeding in public spaces and workplaces.
Support Breastfeeding Mothers
If there’s a friend or family member who’s breastfeeding, offer them support. Perform a simple act of kindness, such as providing a listening ear or helping with household chores. Or try creating a comfortable and private space for breastfeeding co-workers — it can make a significant difference for mother and baby.
Advocate for Better Policies
Spend an hour during National Breastfeeding Month advocating for better breastfeeding policies in workspaces and public spaces. This outreach could mean writing to legislators or participating in advocacy groups. Or, simply starting a conversation about the need for paid maternity leave and breastfeeding-friendly public areas can be an effective way to advocate..
Donate to Relevant Breastfeeding Advocacy Organizations
If possible, make a donation to an organization like La Leche League International or the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. These organizations work tirelessly to support breastfeeding mothers. They also vociferously promote breastfeeding as a public health issue.
Share Stories and Experiences
New to breastfeeding? It might be helpful to share personal experiences with other peers. These stories can inspire and encourage new mothers and help to build a supportive network. Blogs, social media, and local community groups are great platforms for sharing information during National Breastfeeding Month.
Volunteer During National Breastfeeding Month
Volunteering with organizations that support breastfeeding can be a rewarding way to celebrate healthy babies. Whether it’s helping to organize events, providing peer support, or assisting in advocacy efforts, offering some spare time and skills can make such an enormous difference.
Participate in Breastfeeding Events
Many communities host events such as ‘Latch On’, where mothers come together to breastfeed simultaneously. Participating in such events can be a powerful way to show solidarity with others. It’s also helpful in making a statement about the importance of breastfeeding.
Take a quick minute out of the week to express gratitude to any friends or family who are breastfeeding. Acknowledge their dedication and the health benefits that their milk provides to their children. A simple note of appreciation or a quick text message or phone call can mean a lot.
National Breastfeeding Month serves as a reminder of the natural, healthful bond between mother and child. It’s also a reminder of the importance of the need for gaining more support in society and support for the destigmatization of breastfeeding. Participating in this observance not only celebrates this beautiful, brief time of parenting but also contributes to a healthier future for the next generation.