As National Breastfeeding Month comes to an end, local agencies citywide are stepping up to build a community of support for breastfeeding moms year-round with the launch of a new phase of the citywide Strong Baby campaign. Sponsored by the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families and the African American Breastfeeding Network, the campaign will provide breastfeeding resources and tips for new parents, and call for employers to support breastfeeding moms in the workplace.
“The Strong Baby campaign is part of our citywide effort to raise awareness of the factors that promote healthy birth outcomes and a healthy first year of life,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, co-chair of the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families. “With this new phase, we call on all community members and employers to support breastfeeding mothers.”
Health experts recommend that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months and continue with complementary foods until 12 months of age, noting that breastfeeding offers important health benefits for both babies and mothers.
However, while breastfeeding rates have increased nationwide, with 83% of infants starting out breastfed, only 25% of infants are exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age. Rates are significantly lower nationally for African-American infants. In Milwaukee County, while 81.5% of white mothers and 58.9% of black mothers initiate breastfeeding, only 9.9% of white infants and 5.3% of black infants are breastfed exclusively for 6 months.
“Breastfeeding is difficult on its own, but being a breastfeeding mom without access to resources or support is even harder,” said Dalvery Blackwell, co-founder and executive director of African American Breastfeeding Network. “We want every mom to know that support and resources are available to help them meet their breastfeeding goals, and we want every employer to know that it is their responsibility to support women when they return to work.”
The campaign, developed by Serve Marketing, will be seen on billboards and bus shelters throughout Milwaukee, as well as on the Strong Baby social media channels. The campaign will also be brought directly to employers, calling on business leaders to comply with federal laws for breastfeeding support and providing them with toolkits to support working moms.