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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2023

Wellness Spotlight: Campaign highlights National Breastfeeding Month

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

During the month of August, the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee sponsors National Breastfeeding Month to support babies and families. This year’s theme is This is Our Why — a time to celebrate lactating parents and support nursing mothers in the workplace.

The awareness campaign aims to inform, anchor, engage and galvanize action on breastfeeding and related issues. Each week in August features a different theme important to understanding why supporting breastfeeding parents is valuable.


World Breastfeeding Week

When: Aug. 1-7

Theme: Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents

World Breastfeeding Week focuses on breastfeeding and employment. It showcases the impact of paid leave, workplace support and emerging parenting norms on breastfeeding through the lens of parents themselves.


Indigenous Milk Medicine Week

When: Aug. 8-14

Theme: From the Stars to a Sustainable Future

The Indigenous Milk Medicine Collective helps connect milk medicine to the earth and the elements of water, land, fire and air. A sustainable future involves respecting and protecting all life givers. Indigenous Milk Medicine Week was created in 2019 to encourage and uplift the diversity of Native breastfeeding experiences. Indigenous Milk Medicine Week 2023 brings attention to the intersection of lactation with environmental justice, reproductive justice, and the connection and protection of water.


Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week

When: Aug. 15-21

Theme: Telling Our Stories, Elevating Our Voices!

Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week is dedicated to celebrating the diverse experiences of AAPI families and supporting their efforts to reclaim their breastfeeding traditions. The mission is to decrease breastfeeding inequities AAPI communities face and culturally normalize breastfeeding. This includes increasing education and support opportunities for AAPI parents.


Black Breastfeeding Week

When: Aug. 25-31

Theme: We Outside!: Celebrating Connection & Our Communities

Black Breastfeeding Week was created to highlight the disparities in breastfeeding rates among black women and raise awareness to challenges unique to the black community. For more than 40 years, there has been racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years of age or older.

Although most infants receive some breast milk, most are not exclusively breastfeeding or continuing to breastfeed as long as recommended. Sixty percent of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to.

How long a mother breastfeeds her baby is influenced by many factors including:

• Issues with lactation and latching.

• Concerns about nutrition and weight.

• Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding.

• Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave.

• Cultural norms and lack of family support.

• Unsupportive hospital practices and policies.

Because of the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and babies, the CDC supports continuity of care in breastfeeding support through hospital initiatives, work site accommodation and community support initiatives.

However, breastfeeding disparities exist.

Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (77.3%) are ever breastfed compared with Asian infants (87.1%), non-Hispanic White infants (85.3%) and Hispanic infants (81.9%).

Infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children are less likely to ever be breastfed (74.0%) than infants eligible, but not receiving WIC (84.3%), and infants ineligible for WIC (91.5%).

Younger mothers aged 20 to 29 years are less likely to ever breastfeed (78.6%) than mothers aged 30 years or older (85.7%).

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility developed the Family Matters Employee Resource Group to help support working parents and lactating mothers.

“Family Matters came about following the creation of the Affordable Care Act under President Obama,” said Kayla Worden, deputy division head, Code 2340, Nuclear Test Engineering, and former co-lead of the Family Matters ERG. “As part of this act, a new subsection of the Fair Labor Standards Act codified requirements for government agencies to support nursing mothers. In order to meet these standards, including the formation of expressing stations, the 2011 Guiding Coalition’s Work-Life Quality Team formed Family Matters. During this time, in order to meet the demand, several expressing stations were placed within bathrooms, with the intent to update and remove from bathrooms in the future.”

In 2019, a proposal was made, first presented to the People Executive Steering Committee and eventually to then shipyard commander, Capt. Dianna Wolfson. From there a tiger team was created to coordinate with Code 980, Facilities Management, to provide funding to close expressing stations that were not meeting the legal requirement, and create new expressing stations to meet the needs of the shipyard’s workforce.

What resources does Family Matters have for employees, focused on breastfeeding?

• PSNS & IMF INST. 12551.2. A Workplace Breastmilk Expressing Policy

• PSNS & IMF Expressing Policy Key Points in the Family Matters Fact Sheet for Child Care, Parental Leave, Expressing Stations

• Expressing station map with current available stations at PSNS & IMF

• Each expressing station has a binder with resources including tips for pumping and supplementing, pumping at work, meditations and mindfulness techniques, book recommendations, and local resources in the community.

State and local organizations can support breastfeeding through organizational policies, systems, and environmental solutions. Visit the CDC’s Priority Breastfeeding Strategy web page and The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding to learn more. PSNS & IMF employees can also visit the ERG page on SharePoint under the Diversity Leadership Council program.