(BLOOMINGTON) – August is National Breastfeeding Month, an ideal time to raise awareness of breastfeeding benefits to babies – especially premature and fragile infants. World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7 – also proclaimed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb as Breastfeeding Week in Indiana – was created to empower parents globally, as breastfeeding is one of the best investments in saving lives and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations.
According to World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, “not breastfeeding is associated with lower intelligence and results in economic losses of about $302 billion annually. Concerted action is needed in order to achieve the World Health Assembly target of at least 50 percent exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months by 2025.”
In the U.S., breastfeeding in public is a woman’s right, supported by law in all 50 states. However, the practical side of this can be an issue, and many new mothers worry about negative reactions to feeding their baby in front of strangers. The more we can normalize breastfeeding, the more it will be accepted as part of our culture for feeding and nurturing our children.
The Milk Bank, a not-for-profit human breast milk bank, offers tips to ease the anxiety of breastfeeding in public.
- Practice at home. Try in front of a mirror or have someone you trust observe. Start normalizing breastfeeding at home with visitors. What may feel like exposing your body to the world might not even be visible to others.
- Plan ahead. Going to the store? Start by going somewhere you know that has breastfeeding accommodations. Try an app like Mom’s Pump Here that can help you search for a private place to breastfeed.
- Invest in a good nursing bra. Not only is this important for comfort and supports good breast health, but there is nothing worse than having to fumble when settling down to feed your baby.
- Wear layers. A stretchy tank can be versatile, and an oversized t-shirt or button-down can act as a cover or blanket.
- Choose a comfortable location. Find a quiet area like a park bench or a shady spot under a tree. It looks nothing more than a mama snuggling with her baby to potential onlookers.
- Watch your baby’s cues. A crying baby who is hungry and frantic could draw attention and add to your anxiety. A calm baby will more than likely latch quickly and successfully.
- If, on the off chance you encounter negative comments, think of a response that is both firm and polite. No need to apologize; you are doing nothing wrong. A kind smile often is all you need to deter onlookers.
Throughout August, Hoosiers can participate in National Breastfeeding Month by spreading awareness and participating in several events held or co-hosted by The Milk Bank. These include:
- Indiana State Fair Lactation Station RV – August 2-18. Lactating mothers can find a clean, cool place to breastfeed and change their babies while attending the state fair.
- Peace Love Milk – August 17, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. A fun-filled family event for supporters of breastfeeding. Attend for information, resources and freebies.
About The Milk Bank
Founded in 2005, The Milk Bank was established to improve health outcomes for premature and ill infants, foster better health for children and decrease health care expenditures. The Milk Bank receives human milk from carefully screened donors, pasteurizes, freezes and distributes it throughout the United States. As a non-profit, community-supported entity, The Milk Bank is the first and only donor human milk bank in Indiana. The Milk Bank is a proud member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.