Each year, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated Aug. 1-7. This year's campaign celebrates 20 years with the theme "Understanding the Past, Planning for the Future."
It is a special time to raise awareness and show support for breastfeeding families in communities around the world. I have chosen this year to pursue a career as an international board certified lactation consultant.
I have been busy reading and preparing for the exam. Scattered throughout my house are textbooks, study guides and practice exams. I often discuss the benefits and importance of breastfeeding with anyone willing to listen.
One evening while studying on the couch with my children playing around me, I noticed my 9-year-old daughter playing with her dolls. She was pretending her big doll was caring for her smaller doll.
I stopped to watch her play, then found myself compelled to ask, "does your doll nurse her baby?" I was unsure how she would react to this question.
She simply said, "yes, she does!" She proceeded to position the doll and her baby in a beautiful skin-to-skin pose all on her own. She used a small blanket to fashion a sling-like wrap, saying, "this is how the baby nurses best," just as she has seen in pictures from my books.
In that moment, I realized a simple lesson I would not have learned from textbooks. My daughter has gained an understanding of the importance of breastfeeding by the examples set by our family. She grew up seeing her younger brother and sister breastfeed and learned breastfeeding is normal and natural. She understands my role in supporting successful breastfeeding experiences for other families.
Our children learn from our actions and examples. I plan to share this year's World Breastfeeding Week events with my daughter and share the picture of her dolls to symbolize this simple lesson.
The greatest impact any of us can have on planning for the future of breastfeeding awareness is to provide positive guidance and education for our children.