By Hayley Crandall
Wisconsin Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Month with virtual campaigns and the sharing of resources throughout the month of August on social media.
“It’s really about creating awareness about breastfeeding and the importance of it,” Angelia Wilks-Tate, WIC project director with Milwaukee Health Services said. “Being able to have it recognized in the month of August just gives it the chance to have the platform where we can really, really inform the community about the value of breastfeeding.”
The month kicked off with Wisconsin WIC’s #LetsLatchWI hashtag campaign which encouraged moms to share photos of themselves breastfeeding on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag.
Used as a way to engage moms and get the word out, it was a successful one, according to Wilks-Tate. It has been extended until the end of the month, according to the event page.
“We’ve had a great response to it. We saw an increase in traffic because of the hashtag,” said Wilks-Tate. “It’s really about being able to drive people to the resources. It gave us an opportunity to get the word out and expand what we do on a local and national level.”
The month long celebration also features partnerships with Native American and African American organizations to spread awareness and offer support within those communities.
Wisconsin WIC has partnered with the Native Breastfeeding Coalition of Wisconsin to highlight Native Breastfeeding Week from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15. Along with sharing resources, on Wednesday, Aug. 12 a virtual event was held encouraging Native American women to share nursing photos and/or their breastfeeding story.
African American Breastfeeding Week begins Aug. 25 and runs until Aug. 31 with Wisconsin WIC partnering with African American Breastfeeding Network to spread the message. Events and materials will be announced for the upcoming week and can be tracked on the Wisconsin WIC’s Mom Strong Facebook page.
This was an important partnership to establish, Wilks-Tate said, since Wisconsin WIC is a community-focus group dedicated to recognizing and reaching out to those who may need support.
“We know that Native American and African American populations have some of those lower rates for initiating breastfeeding,” said Wilks-Tate. “And being able to target those particular groups provides support. We know that traditionally with Native American and African American groups that it was a tradition that may have fallen to the wayside and we need to be able to support those individuals, so that it becomes normalized.”
Wisconsin WIC continues support for breastfeeding moms through mom-to-mom counseling, access to supplies, and educational materials. The organization’s latest project is a Facebook support group for breastfeeding moms.
The “WIC Facebook Support Groups” will launch latter this year, according to a press release, and allows mothers to connect and share stories and experiences with others on the same journey.
They consider breastfeeding to be a journey, Wilks-Tate explained, and like any journey, support and motivation may be needed along the way. By dedicating the time and spreading the word, it can ease some of the struggles.
“Breastfeeding can be a journey,” said Wilks-Tate. “When you are in the situation where you think everything is going to go well and it does not, then it becomes a situation. If you don’t have the support, then that journey can become a disaster. We want to let them know we are there for them.”