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The National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 4, July-August 2003, p. 141

In 2000, the Surgeon General of the United States announced a national comprehensive breastfeeding policy-The Health and Human Services (HHS) Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding. With this policy, the United States officially embarked upon a course already taken by many other countries-to promote, protect, and encourage breastfeeding.

Two important objectives of the campaign are to increase the awareness that human milk is the best nutrition for babies during the first six months of life, and to assure the public that breastfeeding is normal, desirable, and achievable. Achievement of these objectives is an important priority of the newly announced National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

What is the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign?

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women's Health (OWH) has been funded to carry out the recommendations of the HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding (2000) into the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign to promote breastfeeding among first-time parents who would not normally breastfeed their babies. The campaign aims to empower women to commit to breastfeeding and to clearly illustrate the consequences of not breastfeeding such as a higher likelihood of diabetes, obesity, some childhood cancers, and other illnesses. In addition to trying to raise initiation rates, the campaign will also stress the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months.

How is the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign being promoted?

As a part of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign in the United States, a comprehensive three-year media campaign will be launched in late 2003.

The campaign will be marketed in partnership with strategically selected organizations, including La Leche League International, and will employ state-of-the-art communication techniques through a variety of channels and strategies such as public service announcements (television and radio), bus stop posters, billboards, and educational pamphlets. Articles will be submitted to community newspapers, parenting magazines, women's magazines, and Web sites. Thirteen La Leche League pamphlets are being disseminated through a special breastfeeding helpline funded by OWH where calls are being answered by La Leche League-trained Breastfeeding Information Specialists.

Community-based demonstration projects (CDPs) throughout the United States will work in coordination with the Office on Women's Health and the Advertising Council to implement the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign at the local level. The CDPs, which include breastfeeding coalitions, hospitals, universities, and other organizations, have been funded to offer breastfeeding services, provide outreach to their communities, train health care providers on breastfeeding, implement the media aspects of the campaign, and track breastfeeding rates in their communities. La Leche League Leaders are involved in many of the CDP projects.

What is the breastfeeding helpline?

The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC), a project of the Office on Women's Health, has launched a new breastfeeding helpline and Web site to help mothers with common breastfeeding problems and challenges. NWHIC and LLLI worked together to provide La Leche League training for Breastfeeding Information Specialists who are available to answer emails and assist callers with questions and concerns about positioning, pumping, storage, and many other topics. These counselors answer questions in English and Spanish Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, Eastern Standard Time (1-800-994-9662, TDD 1-888-220-5446). Information is available 24 hours a day on their Web site,

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