What you can do
Simple things you can do to promote breastfeeding in your community:
- Smile at every mother you see breastfeeding, and give her a “thumbs up.” If the situation permits, compliment her on her choice to breastfeed and/or comment on how wonderful it is to see a mother breastfeeding.
- Thank the management of eating establishments, stores, and public facilities that treat breastfeeding mothers and babies with respect.
- Check to see if the place of worship, club, gym, library, and other gathering places you regularly attend is supportive of women who breastfeed. Find out if a place is provided for mothers to comfortably nurse their babies. If improvements are needed, help them to understand how breastfeeding benefits the whole community.
- Donate a book or video on breastfeeding to your local public library. Suggest other materials on breastfeeding for the library to purchase
- Ask if local programs for pregnant teens offer information on breastfeeding. If not, suggest the program contact a local La Leche League Leader, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or other breastfeeding specialist for help in setting up a perinatal breastfeeding support program.
- Take a look at the health, nutrition, and child care materials offered by your school district to see if breastfeeding is included. Suggest to the school board, principals, and teachers of relevant classes that accurate information on breastfeeding is important to future parents.
- Look around health care waiting rooms to see if there are breastfeeding materials produced by infant formula manufacturers. When the healthcare provider recommends breastfeeding, the presence of these materials sends a mixed message to new parents.
- Encourage your local hospital(s) and birth center(s) to join the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
- Call your health insurance company and ask what services they cover for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Encourage expanded coverage for breastfeeding-related services.
- Ask any group of which you are a member to schedule a presentation on “how breastfeeding benefits the community” as a topic of discussion or speech. Local La Leche League Leaders and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants can help you locate an appropriate speaker.
- Before giving to a hunger campaign, find out if they support breastfeeding Write to the organization suggesting that breastfeeding is an essential key to solving the problem of hunger.
- Join others in your community in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, held annually August 1-7. Look for local activities and events in which to participate.
Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed. They shouldn’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed.
Dr. Regina Benjamin,
U. S. Surgeon General.
“You have the right to breastfeed.”