August 3, 2015 - Lansing, MI - August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and the celebration kicks off with World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7. The Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) and other local breastfeeding coalitions across Michigan are hosting several events and campaigns in an effort to help normalize breastfeeding and foster a breastfeeding-friendly culture in our state.
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week, as established by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” Events and efforts around the state will focus not only on improving breastfeeding climate in the workplace, but also advancing breastfeeding throughout the community.
As a part of Breastfeeding Awareness Month activities – and in an effort to celebrate breastfeeding – MIBFN is hosting a social media advocacy campaign. “Where’s Breastfeeding?” is a campaign component that asks mothers to share photos on Facebook of all the places they’ve taken breastfeeding in Michigan using #wheresbreastfeeding. Through the photos, we hope to normalize nursing and demonstrate mothers have the right to breastfeed anytime and anywhere.
Another aspect of MIBFN’s campaign is “Two Easy Steps, One Crucial Goal.” MIBFN asks breastfeeding supports to join a call to action for the newly reintroduced Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and then to share the petition on social media with the goal of creating a breastfeeding-friendly culture in Michigan communities.
A woman’s ability to initiate and sustain breastfeeding is influenced, in part, by the community in which she lives. The extent to which different components of her community – schools, public health programs, coalitions and organizations, the media and businesses – support breastfeeding plays an essential role in determining a mother’s success in breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is not always supported in public spaces, even though the mother and baby are protected by law,” said Barb Jammer, interim executive director of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network. “Creating a breastfeeding-friendly culture in Michigan, including in the workplace, is crucial to improving breastfeeding success rates for mothers and their babies.”
There have been many legislative victories to help support breastfeeding mothers and Michigan businesses. One of these accomplishments was Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This 2010 federal legislation requires employers to provide reasonable break time as well as a location that is not a bathroom for breastfeeding mothers to express milk.
A more recent success was the Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the Michigan legislature in June 2014. The state law gives women the right to nurse a child in any place that is open to the public in Michigan.
As we celebrate these triumphs for mothers and their families, we realize there is still more that can be done to spread the health, social, ecologic and economic benefits of breastfeeding as well as to foster a statewide breastfeeding-friendly culture. Though protected by laws, mothers are still discriminated against when nursing in public or are unsupported when returning back to work.
For more information about current breastfeeding legislation, MIBFN and your local coalition’s efforts to advance breastfeeding, or to learn more about ways your business can become breastfeeding-friendly, visit www.mibreastfeeding.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mibfnetwork.
About Michigan Breastfeeding Network
The mission of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) is to optimize state and community support of breastfeeding by leading collaborative actions for advocacy, education, and coalition building. To learn more, visit www.mibreastfeeding.org.