Every year during the first week of August, the global community celebrates breastfeeding families with World Breastfeeding Week and in Bozeman, Montana we celebrate too!

World Breastfeeding Week was first observed in 1992 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding to unify breastfeeding promotion internationally and celebrate the Innocenti Declaration. The Innocenti Declaration was enacted in 1990 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  These organizations recognized that breastfeeding is the ideal nutrition for infants and is important to their growth and development. For the last two decades, World Breastfeeding Week has brought awareness to the importance of breastfeeding peer support, community awareness, breastfeeding in the work place, the health benefits of breastfeeding and implementing the Breastfeeding Friendly Initiative in hospitals and birth centers.  Breastfeeding is a key component in helping our world end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity; the 2016 World Breastfeeding Week theme is how breastfeeding supports these in sustainable development.

The Gallatin Breastfeeding Coalition does our part to support the protection and promotion in Gallatin County. We bring community awareness of the importance of breastfeeding through our annual Big Latch On event the first weekend in August during World Breastfeeding Week.  Whether you are breastfeeding, have breastfed, know someone who has or is breastfeeding or support a family’s right to breastfeeding their infant, you are invited!  Games for older children, food and family photo sessions bring our community together to support breastfeeding in Bozeman and beyond.  Area businesses have helped this event continue to be successful and this year, downtown businesses will donate their window displays to help us celebrate!  Breastfeeding art, common myths and breastfeeding facts will be displayed to increase our community’s knowledge about breastfeeding and we are thrilled by the generosity of business owners in Bozeman!

Breastfeeding is the first line of defense against chronic disease for moms and their babies. When families can breastfeed their babies for the first year it can reduce their incidence of diabetes, heart disease, childhood cancers, obesity and asthma.  Mothers can decrease their risk for breast, ovarian and uterine cancers, type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression.  A community’s support is essential to the success of breastfeeding families and helps to normalize breastfeeding for future generations.  Find out how you can support breastfeeding families and attend the 4th Annual Big Latch On at www.gallatinbreastfeedingcoalition.org and find us on Facebook at Gallatin Breastfeeding Coalition today!

The Gallatin Breastfeeding Coalition strives to normalize breastfeeding by empowering and supporting families through collaboration between organizations and individuals. We promote, protect and support breastfeeding through continued advocacy, education and outreach efforts.

Melenie Duval is the Lactation Education Program Coordinator for the Gallatin City-County Health Department in addition to coordinating the Gallatin Breastfeeding Coalition. The Lactation Education Program creates networks of support for pregnant and breastfeeding families in rural communities across Gallatin, Park and Madison counties.  These services include a 24-hour hotline, breast pump rentals, tele-health visits with a lactation professional, clinic visits in their community when available, home-visiting lactation consultations, monthly Baby Bistro peer support and breastfeeding classes quarterly.  You can find out more about the Lactation Education Program and its services at www.healthgal.classicinkdev.biz.

Article as featured in Montana Parent.