National Breastfeeding Month
August is National Breastfeeding Month — a month dedicated to advancing advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure that all families have the opportunity to breastfeed.
Equity gaps in access to resources and support create troubling disparities for breastfeeding mothers and birthing people. NICHQ works to close the gaps and achieve equity in all forms, including race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability.
Hispanic mothers are most likely to supplement breastmilk with formula within the first two days of life. Learn how one hospital is using a variety of interventions aimed at closing the breastfeeding disparity gap.
Chestfeeding is the process of feeding a child human milk from a person's chest. The term can be used by anyone, but often is used by transgender and nonbinary people when the words breastfeeding or nursing are not an ideal fit. Read more about NICHQ's language evolution in this article by COO Heidi Brooks.
Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Birthing People
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed or chestfed for about the first 6 months with continued feeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer. Yet, many mothers and birthing people struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals, and sixty percent do not breastfeed as long as they intended to.
Rates of breastfeeding in the United States vary widely because of the multiple and complex barriers mothers face when starting and continuing to breastfeed.
Factors that influence how long a baby is breastfed, including issues with lactation and latching, concerns about infant nutrition and weight, concerns about taking medications while breastfeeding, and implicit bias experienced through unsupportive hospital practices and policies.
This August, we join the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee in recognizing National Breastfeeding Month. At NICHQ, we are committed to making breastfeeding and infant safe sleep the national norm. Help us spread the word about the benefits of breastfeeding and learn how you can support mothers and birthing people to ensure every child can achieve their optimal health!
Breastfeeding Safety & Safe Infant Sleep
Breastfeeding or chestedding brings a variety of health benefits for babies. But, tired mothers and birthing people need support to continue breastfeeding while ensuring infants sleep safely.
Below are resources to promote and encourage healthy sleep habits for both moms and babies.
- Dispell common myths and facts about safe infant sleep and breastfeeding.
- Educate childcare providers and caregivers with resources about safe sleep practices.
- How sleep savvy are you? Take our safe sleep quiz to find out.
- Implement these tactics and examples to support safe sleep conversations.
Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week
NICHQ recognizes Black Breastfeeding Week, held annually August 25 – 31, during the last week of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Black Breastfeeding Week was created by Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green, and Anayah Sangidele-Ayoka to highlight the unique challenges and triumphs of Black breastfeeding mothers and birthing people.
Systemic barriers to breastfeeding prevent many Black women and birthing people from reaching their breastfeeding goals, leading African Americans to have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in comparison to other ethnic groups.
NICHQ’s Breastfeeding and Safe Sleep Work
- We partner with more than 70 cross-sector, national-level organizations that are invested in improving and reducing disparities in infant safe sleep and breastfeeding to provide training and resources to systems and community groups to engage families and help identify and overcome barriers in integrating safe sleep and breastfeeding. Learn more.
- NICHQ is providing a comprehensive capacity-building assistance training program for all Healthy Start programs. The training program includes technical assistance on high-priority topics, such as safe sleep, fatherhood and breastfeeding, and training for program staff on core competencies, including leadership, quality improvement, and data and measurement. Learn more.
Remember, it's also National Immunization Awareness Month!
Health professionals have the power to protect patients against vaccine-preventable diseases. Recommendation from service providers is the number one reason parents choose to vaccinate their children on time. Talk to the families you serve about missed vaccines and routinely assess vaccination status.
Additional Articles & Resources
A Better Approach to Conversations about Breastfeeding
Without hearing directly from mothers, health professionals can’t provide meaningful education and support that speaks to each mother’s individual views and experiences. This is one reason why improving conversations with breastfeeding mothers can help increase breastfeeding rates. Here, two experts offer advice on how put a better conversational approach into action.
Mother Partners: Promoting Patient-Centered Policies to Support Breastfeeding
Mothers aren't just benefiting from improved practices and policies, they're helping hospitals identify strategies to better serve their patients.
What Health Equity Efforts Can Learn from Immunization Initiatives
While vaccinations help ensure that children will be less likely to be affected by preventable conditions, they have also been a tool in closing health disparities (differences in access to or availability of services) between population. As many professionals and organizations strive to achieve health equity, the drive to improve immunization rates is a replicable success story that can be applied repeatedly.
How Do We Address Safe Sleep Disparities? Start by Building Trust
Healthy babies shouldn’t die in their sleep. But, despite decades of trying to reduce the number of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) they still persist. And most often, their persistence affects families of color. In this article, Founder of the Global Infant Safe Sleep Center, Stacy Scott, shares ideas on how we can best address this alarming lack of equity and reduce sleep-related deaths across all populations.
Ignoring Safe Sleep Progress Risks Increasing Unsafe Sleep Deaths
A recent American Academy of Pediatrics article concluded that, due to national SUID rates stagnation, states needed to re-examine their efforts to improve safe-sleep practices. We couldn’t agree more that these statistics invite increased focus on sleep-related deaths. However, along with understanding where progress has stalled, there is much to learn from progress that has been made and take steps to leverage those successes.
Bedsharing, Breastfeeding and Babies Dying: A Conversation Worth Having
Bedsharing can lead to longer breastfeeding duration. It also leads to more infant deaths. These opposing facts represent a major dilemma for those working to improve infant health. What does it mean when strategies that put babies in danger also support behaviors that improve outcomes? In this article, Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician and safe sleep and breastfeeding expert, provides some answers.
Closing the Breastfeeding Disparity Gap: Methods for Improvement
When compared to all other racial groups, Hispanic mothers are most likely to supplement breastmilk with formula within the first two days of life. One hospital on the Texas-Mexico border, serving a nearly 100 percent Hispanic population, has introduced a variety of interventions aimed at closing the breastfeeding disparity gap, specifically as it relates to exclusive breastfeeding.
How Safe Sleep Savvy Are You? Spanish Version
The Spanish-language version of our popular video quiz to help physicians, nurses, home visitors and other public health professionals can prompt discussions around best-practices for infant sleep.
Interactive E-Handout for Safe Sleep Conversations
This interactive E-handout helps families learn about safe sleep practices. Health professionals can sit with families and click through the pages where they’ll find different sleep scenes and environments. A series of prompts and pop-ups show what is and is not safe and inspire learning conversations. Families can also access the handout at home and use it to teach their friends and families about safe sleep.
Safe Sleep Promising Practices and Literature Review
These two resources can support state and community efforts to eliminate sleep-related infant deaths: a comprehensive literature review and specific examples of promising resources, programs and interventions states can spread and scale to reduce sleep-related infant deaths.
Better Sleep for Breastfeeding Mothers, Safer Sleep for Babies
How do you realistically support tired and overwhelmed mothers to breastfeed safely? This all too common question haunts maternal health professionals who seek to encourage both breastfeeding and safe sleep habits. Here, Michael Goodstein, MD, a neonatologist and safe sleep and breastfeeding expert, offers three opportunities for improvement.
Fathers: Powerful Allies for Maternal and Child Health
Supporting father engagement and involvement is a critical opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes in the decades to come, says NICHQ President and CEO Scott D. Berns. Here, he describes three strategies for supporting fathers as powerful allies in maternal and child health outcomes.