Happy World Breastfeeding Week & National Breastfeeding Month!!

By Guest Blogger, Cindy Turner-Maffei, MA, ALC, IBCLC, Faculty, Healthy Children Project, Inc., Affiliated Faculty, Union Institute & University

(Ed. Note: Our Milk Way blogger Jess Fedenia is on parental leave for the months of July, August, and September, 2016 to welcome a third child into the family. During Jess’s leave, members of the Healthy Children Project, Inc. circle are taking up the blogger role.)

Happy WBW to You!

WBW Logo
Copyright © 2016 World Breastfeeding Week/WABA

Today marks the beginning of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s (WABA) World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) Celebration.

The WBW theme for this year, Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development, will be celebrated worldwide from August 1 through 7, 2016.

In 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee officially declared the month of August each year to be National Breastfeeding Month. Thus the U.S. celebrates WBW for an entire month!

World Breastfeeding Week, 2016

WABA’s Objectives for WBW 2016 are four-fold:

  1. Inform people about the Sustainable Development goals and how they relate to breastfeeding and Infant and young child feeding (IYCF)
  2. Firmly anchor breastfeeding and IYCF as a key component of sustainable development
  3. Galvanize actions at many levels to support breastfeeding and appropriate IYCF
  4. Engage and collaborate with a wider range of actors to around promotion, protection and support of appropriate IYC

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were approved by the United Nations member states in 2015, to replace the Millennium Development Goals which were targeted for achievement in 2015. In the preamble of the full document, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are described as intended to stimulate action in areas critical to sustainable development, including People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. The vision statement of the document’s introduction is striking (recommended reading, p. 7). The scope and intent of the SDGs is broad, visionary, and monumental; it identifies 17 goals with 169 targets.

Of the 17 SDG goals, WABA’s WBW16 Poster identifies the following impact areas of IYCF:

  • Environment & Climate Change
  • Nutrition, Food Security and Poverty Reduction
  • Survival, Health & Wellbeing
  • Women’s Productivity & Employment
  • Sustainable Partnership and the Rule of Law

The ways in which infants and young children are fed do indeed have wide- and far-ranging impacts on survival, health, environment, productivity, and sustainability of life on earth.

This blog post focuses on the last bullet above: Sustainable Partnership.

Insights about Sustaining Change: The 2016 ROSE Summit

This past week I had the joy of attending the powerful Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) Summit in New Orleans. This experience, combined with my study of the WBW 2016 topic, has led me to ponder what it takes to generate and sustain genuine change.

I was touched deeply by the energy, spirit and passion of the ROSE gathering of hundreds of breastfeeding advocates who are in the process of transforming breastfeeding promotion, protection and support for families of color.

The problems ROSE supporters tackle in their daily work are monumental: disparities in prenatal and breastfeeding care, disparities in infant mortality, disparities in breastfeeding outcomes, lifelong disparities in health.

The theme of the 2016 ROSE symposium was “The Rose That Grew From Concrete”, based on the poem by Tupac Shakur.

Although serious and heartrending information was shared in some parts of conference presentations, the overarching messages were affirming and positive.

Celebrating ROSE, New Orleans Style
Celebrating ROSE, New Orleans Style         ~Photo Courtesy of Andrea Serano

The amazing Kimarie Bugg and the ROSE team are experts at building and sustaining energy through music, laughter, connection and fun, as well as through deep, thought-provoking lectures and presentations. Where else does a conference begin and end with a procession led by a New Orleans jazz band? (Check out the videos posted here)


The ROSE Summit shared news of many inspired initiatives, such as those ongoing under ROSE’s umbrella as well as many others. Here I highlight just two initiatives of several featured at the summit:  the CHAMPS Initiative and Breastfeeding: Strengthening the Heart of the Community.

›♦ Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) is working to implement the Ten Steps in many hospitals in the Mississippi Delta and other South Central areas with low breastfeeding rates. The initiative brings together community leaders and members, health care staff, and experts in breastfeeding and the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

In describing lessons learned to date from the CHAMPS experience, Anne Merewood emphasized that effective and lasting change requires community involvement.

Event Poster

› ♦ Breastfeeding: Strengthening the Heart of the Community, Reclaiming the African American Tradition is an artistic collaboration of breastfeeding families, poets, and artists supported by the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, Healthy Start New Orleans, the New Orleans Health Department, and other local sponsors.

Several of the artists, poets, photographers, and mothers who created the multimedia breastfeeding exhibit at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center spoke of the power of collaboration, of individual artisans learning together from the experience of community members and from one another’s process.


These and other initiatives have great promise to foster not only breastfeeding outcomes, but also the achievement of many of the SDG focal areas. One can’t help but think that the type of collaboration necessary to create a welcoming atmosphere for breastfeeding families in a birth center, health center, workplace, or community is the same type of collaboration necessary to make other crucial social changes.


Sustaining Ourselves and Crucial Partnerships

Those of us fortunate enough to work as lactation support providers (LSPs) know the joy of working with babies and parents, and how their successes in achieving goals fuel us to continue the work.

As LSPs, we also face some very real forces that can erode our energy, ranging from giant commercial forces to the incessant need to improve policy and practice on many different levels.

It’s particularly painful to see so much energy drained by divisions among LSPs over issues such as licensure and reimbursement.

We all share interest, knowledge, skill, and passion to support breastfeeding families. Ideally we would merge our energies and resources, as CHAMPS and the group presented by the Ashé Cultural Arts Center did, to strengthen the network around our families, and to address the very real outside forces that threaten our shared work, and the future health of Americans.

I’d like to share the simple messages I have received from this week’s experiences:

  • Seek out and integrate new voices and new perspectives
  • Celebrate the successes of others, as well as of our own
  • Seek connection with all who influence new families (build those oxytocin levels together!)
  • Be aware that all do not share the same benefits, resources, and experiences; remain open to differences
  • Cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the roles all play in supporting new families
  • Whenever possible, Dance!


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