Black women have the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Mississippi, and in order to reverse that trend, the entire community has to support efforts to make breastfeeding possible for every mother.
Breastfeeding has been called “The Great Equalizer,” because it “goes a long way toward canceling out health difference between being born into poverty or being born into affluence” (former UNICEF executive director, JP Grant). A breastfeeding-friendly community is a healthier community, and there are several steps communities can take to strengthen breastfeeding support and normalization.
North Carolina developed a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community Designation (BFCD) that includes 10 practical steps that help demonstrate a community’s acknowledgement and appreciation of the benefits of breastfeeding to the health of children, mothers, families, and the community as a whole.
- The community’s elected or appointed leadership has a written statement supporting breastfeeding that is routinely communicated to all.
- The community as a whole provides a welcoming atmosphere for breastfeeding families.
- Optimal breastfeeding is supported by health leadership.
- During pregnancy, all families in the community are informed about the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as about the risks of unnecessary formula use, and where to access support as needed.
- Health care in the community is breastfeeding friendly.
- Non-healthcare system breastfeeding support groups and services are fully available in the community, including International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), La LecheLeague (LLL), and other skilled breastfeeding support (such as Baby Cafes).
- The businesses and social organizations in the community are welcoming to breastfeeding families.
- Local businesses and healthcare clinics/offices follow the principles of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.
- The US Business Case for Breastfeeding is promulgated by the government and the Chamber of Commerce or equivalent.
- Education systems, including childcare, K-12, colleges and universities, are encouraged to include breastfeeding-friendly curricula at all levels.