August is National Breastfeeding Month

We know breastfeeding is a 24-7, 365 day act. It’s happening in the middle of the night, during your work meeting, on vacations, and every place in between. But in August, a brighter light is shed on some of the dark issues that still plague this very natural and very healthy way to feed our little bundles of joy. 

Did You Know? 

As we head into a month dedicated to honoring breastfeeding, we found a couple interesting facts for you:

- Breastfeeding burns between 500 to 600 calories a day. This would be equal to running for 40 minutes at a 12-minute mile pace. 

- If you breastfeed for one year that's about 1,800 hours. Think about this: a full-time job with 3 weeks vacation is 1,960 hours. 

- The size of your breasts has nothing to do with how much you make. A woman with small breasts could produce more than a mom with large breasts. 

- When you breastfeed, your brain releases prolactin and oxytocin, which help you bond with your baby. These hormones also ease feelings of stress and anxiety. 

World Breastfeeding Week

Each year, between August 1 and August 7, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action organizes World Breastfeeding Week. WBW is a global campaign dedicated to raising awareness and sparking conversation and change around breastfeeding. It takes on important topics and this year is no different. The focus for 2023 is on breastfeeding and employment and work. 

The week will focus on things like adequate maternity/paternity leave, workplace support, and from parents themselves about this important conversation. During this time, the campaign will focus on creating change through governments, policymakers, and the workplace itself. It will also strive to empower parents to have their voices heard to create breastfeeding-friendly environments. 

The UNICEF Executive Director and WHO Director General, gave a joint statement on World Breastfeeding Week:

“Supportive workplaces are key. Evidence shows that while breastfeeding rates drop significantly for women when they return to work, that negative impact can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies.

Family-friendly workplace policies - such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk - create an environment that benefits not only working women and their families but also employers. These policies generate economic returns by reducing maternity-related absenteeism, increasing the retention of female workers, and reducing the costs of hiring and training new staff.”

There are ways you can get involved, check out the World Breastfeeding Week website for more information. 

National Breastfeeding Month

August also marks National Breastfeeding Month. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee made it official in August of 2011 with the goal of creating action and conversation about policy and practice changes that need to take place to support mothers and their children and families. 

The theme in 2023 is “This Is Our Why.” The idea behind it is to focus on why this is so important and the families that need the most support. There are ways you can get involved by contacting your members of Congress to get them to support comprehensive and permanent paid leave, to increasing funding for breastfeeding programs. You can also share your story about why breastfeeding is important to you and who or what made a difference in your time breastfeeding. 

Each week this year the month is broken down into themes

August 1 - 7: World Breastfeeding Week

August 8 - 14: Indigenous Milk Medicine Week 

August 15 - 21: Asian American Native and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week

August 25 - 31: Black Breastfeeding Week 

September 5 - 11: Semana de La Lactancia Latina 

While this is a lot of information, hopefully you can find ways to connect with moms who are going through the same daily challenges that you are. There are lots of ways to follow along on social media and support organizations and groups around you. This is a way to bring awareness to something we care about and think about every single day of the year. 

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