Lisa Akers, Executive Director of one of our World Breastfeeding Week 2017 partners Best for Babes, shared this beautiful open letter to the village that supports breastfeeding. Leading Lady salutes every member of the village who makes breastfeeding the most special, sacred and healthy choice for babies, mothers and everyone in your community.
Having a baby is perhaps the craziest mix of emotions a new parent will ever face. The elation, dreams and love new parents have for this new little being is constantly intertwined with confusion, exhaustion and anxiety, only to be compounded by the combination of hormones involved. Yes, being a new parent is tough, especially in today’s culture where family and close friends can be miles away. If the old proverb it takes a village to raise a child holds true, who do new parents turn to as their village and how do they ensure the village supports personal parenting goals like breastfeeding?
Nourishing their babies is one of the most important decisions new parents will make. At times the sheer volume of information on this subject is overwhelming, not to mention the logistical challenges that emerge during the journey. New parents deserve access to positive, inspiring, and evidence-based facts to make informed decisions about infant feeding.
We know from mountains of research by reputable government and healthcare agencies that the road to lifelong health begins with breastfeeding1,2,3,4,5,6. We also know that 4 out of 5 parents begin breastfeeding from birth, but that many new parents aren’t meeting their personal breastfeeding goals because they are being Booby Trapped – bombarded with myths, misinformation, and a host of other cultural, legal, and institutional barriers.
To the new parent who is dedicated to giving your baby the life-long gift of breastfeeding: You can do it, you are enough, you are not alone. For every challenge there is a solution if you look to your village and never give up.
To the partners who support breastfeeding: We know you care deeply about the health and wellbeing of your child. Be there, be encouraging, be compassionate, be helpful. Your entire family benefits from breastfeeding.
To veteran parents and family members who have once walked in these shoes: You remember the roller coaster of triumphs and challenges. Be a loving presence, a sounding board, a cheerleader. You’ve moved on but this moment is raw and true for the new parents in your life.
To WIC, La Leche League, BMBFA, ROSE, hospital and other lactation consultants and counselors that support new parents: You are amazing, kind and benevolent as you tirelessly help parents navigate breastfeeding. You are changing lives and saving lives, one baby at a time. We salute you.
To the breastfeeding support organizations that champion parents: You are the definition of village. You welcome, you uplift, you listen, you embrace. When parents feel surrounded by your hope and warmth, they thrive.
To the employers who help parents achieve their breastfeeding goals: You empower families to be productive in the workplace and at home. And you know breastfeeding makes the generation stronger, which helps your bottom line.
To the healthcare, nonprofit and government agencies: You have the opportunity to set the priorities, connect the resources, right the wrongs. Breastfeeding supports the world on a global scale. From the health of families, to the health of the environment, and from the economy to the empowerment of all peoples, breastfeeding contributes in every way.
This chain of breastfeeding support – from babies and parents, to extended family, friends, lactation consultants, breastfeeding groups, businesses, healthcare, nonprofit and government agencies – is the breastfeeding village that you can and should rely on. This is your circle, this is where you belong. When every link in the chain does their part, the system works, you succeed, and everyone wins.
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2017 is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. By working together, this breastfeeding support village forms partnerships that empower and connects us all to the human values that really matter: love, nurture, health, respect, confidence and kindness.
And it doesn’t get much more supportive and “together” than this: Best for Babes and Leading Lady are working side-by-side to ensure that 21,000 new parents across the country receive nursing bras during World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month 2017. The bras donated through this annual philanthropic program will be distributed through nonprofit and government organizations including Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agencies, La Leche League chapters, Black Mothers Breastfeeding Alliance (BMBFA), Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), hospitals and other breastfeeding groups who serve those in need of support. After all, as your village we’ve got your back!
There is no proverb that says parenting is easy, so we are eager to find a way to make all of you feel inspired, prepared, and empowered. Our goal is to empower and enable you to reach your personal breastfeeding goals, whether that’s 2 days, 2 months or 2 years and beyond, without judgment, pressure or guilt. Every parent needs support and every village has the capacity and opportunity to offer it.
In Good Health,
Lisa Akers, Executive Director of the Best for Babesâ Foundation
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