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Breastfeeding: The Power of Courage

By Alex Sosa
Breastfeeding Coalition of WA Program Coordinator
Breastfeeding Promotion Program
Mary Ann Cahill, one of the seven co-founders of La Leche League International (LLLI), recently passed away on October 26th at the age of 87. The news of her passing made me think about how this group of women had the courage to transform breastfeeding in the U.S. and around the world. This courage came at a time when breastfeeding rates had declined significantly in the 1950’s. Mary Ann Cahill and the other founders of LLLI believed that there was something transformational about breastfeeding and they set out to change the societal norms and individual perspectives regarding breastfeeding.
In 2007, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published a report, Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries, confirming what LLLI leaders had already been aware of and working towards for the past 50 years—Breastfeeding contributes greatly to the emotional and physical well-being of both mother and baby across the entire life span.
All healthcare organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. The 2013 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card indicates that the “exclusive breastfeeding” rate at 3 months for Washington state is 47%; the same rate at 6 months is reported to be 19%. This is a 28% drop in just three months. The report suggests that significant work and much opportunity remains in Washington state to transform the breastfeeding landscape supporting our breastfeeding mothers. Change is about transformation and having the courage to work together like La Leche League’s founders did over 50 years ago.
While transformation is never easy, courage does matter! Whether you’re a mom, family member, health care provider, employer, coalition or community member, everyone has a role to play in supporting breastfeeding. Listen to yourself, look at the facts and begin to illuminate your own path. Celebrate your successes and continue the courage to grab the opportunities to transform breastfeeding in your community. Don’t be afraid of your own greatness—follow your dreams even when you don’t feel confident about the outcome.
I truly believe breastfeeding holds the key for healthy communities in Washington state – that is what powers my courage.
Here are some great resources to learn more about breastfeeding:
The Revolutionaries Wore Pearls —about seven women who challenged society, changed the culture, and taught the world that babies were born to be breastfed.


Tags: Breastfeeding   Breastfeeding support   courage   exclusive breastfeeding   La Leche League International   Mary Ann Cahill   

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