National Breastfeeding Month is getting bigger and better each year. And for the first time ever, our national celebration of lactation is five weeks long. The addition of Latina/x Breastfeeding Week from Sept. 5 to 11 gets the credit for drawing national attention to the work we all do.
Protecting, promoting and supporting chest, breast and human milk feeding is a goal we all share. However, the specific observations that take place each week starting Aug. 1 motivate us to dig deeper into the individual and collective experiences of various communities.
The creation of Latina/x Breastfeeding Week this year is especially meaningful in California, where Latino/x is our largest racial and ethnic group.
Monica Esparza and Jessica Marquez of New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force are the primary organizers of the initiative. Esparza, task force executive director, said this year’s inaugural Latina/x Breastfeeding Week represents a lot of behind-the-scenes effort.
“We’ve been working for several years to get this week launched,” Esparza said. “It’s the result of Latino leaders from across the nation working as a collective. Our goal is to bring awareness to the unique barriers and issues impacting our communities while also celebrating our strengths and culture.”
The week is intentionally established to be celebrated the Tuesday after Labor Day to connect with September as Hispanic Heritage Month and not overlap with any of the other weeks celebrating specific communities.
The theme of the week aligns with the national theme: This is our why/por eso estamos aquí.
“It’s important for us to acknowledge the specific challenges and barriers that Latino families are facing when accessing lactation support, including the lack of access to support and health care in our own language,” Esparza said. “It is also important to highlight the ways Latino/x community leaders are stepping in and filling gaps in a way that feels right to us.”
Anyone who identifies as Latina/x is encouraged to submit their story, whether it focuses on infant feeding, toddler feeding, exclusive pumping or the support received throughout their journey.
The week begins with a kickoff event from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Pacific on Sept. 5. A community-building event will close out the week on Sept. 11 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Pacific. If you’re planning your own Latina/x Breastfeeding Week events, Esparza encourages you to submit the details so they can be featured on the event Facebook Page.