The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2012 report card on breastfeeding revealed that breastfeeding rates are on the rise. However, less than half -- 47.2 percent -- of mothers are still nursing their babies at 6 months old, and only a quarter -- 25.5 percent -- are nursing their babies at 12 months old. While many local, state and national initiatives are in place to provide support for nursing mothers and improve breastfeeding rates, any nursing mom can work toward boosting awareness. Whether you're an activist-minded mama with lofty goals or simply someone who wants to support other nursing moms, you can find an awareness opportunity for you.
Nurse in Public
Learning to nurse a tiny newborn, especially for first-time moms, can be overwhelming, and it might take you several weeks or months to get into your nursing groove. Once you do, give yourself the freedom to get out of the house, and nurse your baby in public. Wearing nursing-friendly clothes, using a nursing cover or receiving blanket for modesty and finding comfortable public spots to nurse can make public breastfeeding simple. When you nurse in public, you immediately raise awareness by showing those people you encounter that breastfeeding is a normal, natural and healthy way to feed your baby.
Join in on national and international movements that raise breastfeeding awareness. One well-known annual event, the Big Latch On, brings together breastfeeding mothers across the world at the same time, aiming to beat previous records or set a world record of the number of mothers nursing at the same minute. Such events provide support for breastfeeding mothers, raise public awareness of breastfeeding and encourage communities to support public breastfeeding, since most of the Latch Ons take place in public places. Be a part of history while raising awareness at the same time.
Join a Support Group
Being a new mother can be isolating, even when you have the support of family and friends. When you join a breastfeeding support group, you can connect with other nursing mothers while becoming a part of your local breastfeeding community. In addition to building relationships, these groups may allow you to work with other breastfeeding mothers on local awareness projects. Ask your hospital, lactation consultant, obstetrician or pediatrician for recommendations for breastfeeding support groups, or check out La Leche League International.
Be Open About Your Experience
Breastfeeding is a natural and healthy way to nourish your baby, and speaking out about your experience can help empower other women. Rather than judging mothers who might be considering using formula, you can simply speak about your breastfeeding experience honestly, answering questions and highlighting both the benefits and challenges you've experienced on your breastfeeding journey. Reach out to new mothers and offer advice and support, whether you're talking about how you dealt with the middle-of-the-night feedings during the newborn stage or what breastfeeding products worked best for you. Your voice can raise breastfeeding awareness in your community.