Sharing Our Why in Honor of National Breastfeeding Month 2023

July 31, 2023

National Breastfeeding Month is the lactation world’s version of the Super Bowl. It’s an opportunity to join forces throughout the nation to protect, promote, and support chest, breast and human milk feeding. It’s also a time when we see more critical stories focused on lactation and the individual stories of families.

We get it. The U.S. commercial formula industry has had minimal oversight since artificial breast milk substitutes were first introduced as a consumer product in the 19th century. We are surrounded by predatory marketing practices that exploit the fears, challenges and concerns of parents when they are at their most vulnerable. And most Americans don’t even realize it.

Combine that history with the reality that our country lacks the structure and support necessary to help families achieve the lactation and human milk feeding journey they desire, and it’s no wonder National Breastfeeding Month can feel like a battle between warring feeding decisions.

National Breastfeeding Month 2023 logo

The #NBM2023 theme, This is Our Why, encourages everyone to shine a light on why this work is so important and centers the conversation on the babies and families who need our support. 

Here at the California Breastfeeding Coalition, our why is the disconnect between what parents want when it comes to infant feeding and what they are forced to accept. We aren’t backing down in our advocacy and education efforts to work toward a future where every Californian receives equitable access to quality, timely, essential lactation support throughout the perinatal period — not just for a few minutes while recovering from birth.

We kick off National Breastfeeding Month with World Breastfeeding Week, which focuses on making a difference for working parents. Though the U.S. has some of the weakest lactation-supportive policies for families across the globe, it’s a worldwide fact that breastfeeding initiation and duration rates increase when working parents feel supported in their lactation journey.Quote text: Globally, a mother's return to paid work after childbirth is one of hte leading reasons for early supplementation with artificial formula and early cessation of breastfeeding.

Advocating on behalf of working families by supporting policy change, educating employers, training providers, and connecting families to local resources continues to be a priority for our staff and board. Here’s a brief summary of some of these efforts:

  • Legislative advocacy in support of the federal PUMP Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in 2022. 
  • Supporting the passage of SB 951, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2025 and increases the rate of wage replacement for workers who take paid family leave and state disability.
  • Working with the state to hold Medi-Cal managed care plans accountable for the legally required coverage of pasteurized donor human milk and lactation support services.
  • Publishing Lactation Support for Low-Wage Workers, a collaborative effort with the state department of public health and California WIC Association
  • Helping with the development of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health online searchable database, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions

And though we are proud of the work we’ve done with partners and stakeholders, we know there is much to do. According to the most recent state data, there is almost a 22% gap between the number of parents who say they intend to breastfeed and those who are still breastfeeding 3 months after birth. This is clear evidence that families are not being supported in their infant-feeding journeys, and it’s unacceptable.

We are working with lawmakers and employers to minimize the barriers working families face in making their feeding intentions a reality. To participate in these efforts, join our Lactation Action Network.

2023 National Breastfeeding Month Weekly Observances

Below is a list of the lactation-supportive observances happening during National Breastfeeding Month. For a complete list of California-based and online events, visit our events calendar.