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Breastfeeding: Raising Awareness and Support During National Breastfeeding Month

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Breastfeeding advocates and educators like myself have been counting down the days until the start of August. That's not because we're looking forward to a summer vacation or longing for the cooler days of fall. Instead, we've been eagerly anticipating the beginning of National Breastfeeding Month.

This year marks the second official National Breastfeeding Month. In 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee officially deemed August National Breastfeeding Month for our nation.

This is a time to reflect on how far our country has come in increasing breastfeeding awareness and where we're headed in our continued advocacy. Within recent years, two states have banned unsolicited formula freebies to new moms in hospitals and other states are looking to follow suit.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which ensures that employers provide breastfeeding and pumping moms with the time and a private place, other than a bathroom, to pump or breastfeed at work. It also requires health plans to cover breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling.

Breastfeeding has become increasingly integrated into America's everyday dialogue, though there is still a lot of work to be done. The rights of breastfeeding moms continue to be unjustly violated, as women have been harassed for breastfeeding in public time and time again. There has been increased exposure and coverage as the breastfeeding community and networks of breastfeeding moms have responded through public nurse-ins. And, of course, one of the biggest discussion points of the year was the TIME magazine cover story on attachment parenting with a photo of a breastfeeding mom and her older child. This worked to further heighten the national discussion.

My hope is that this discussion continues to spark conversations among all of us, and that breastfeeding will be a subject that we can talk about freely and publicly. I want it to help us continue to make inroads in our efforts. Hopefully, with increased discussion, more moms will have information to make a truly educated decision on their infant feeding choice. They'll recognize the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks to not breastfeed -- all of which are substantiated by evidence-based research that continues to mount.

From these conversations, I want to see measurable progress in breastfeeding initiation and duration past the first few days, weeks, and months of a baby's life in the U.S. About 75 percent of moms in the United States initiate breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions' 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card. However, the numbers for duration drop in subsequent weeks and months, especially as moms return to work. I look forward to seeing those numbers grow as we celebrate more National Breastfeeding Months in the years to come and increase our support for breastfeeding moms and babies.

I'll be doing my part to support moms by speaking with other experts from within the breastfeeding community as well as providing information to our Lansinoh USA communities on Facebook and Twitter (#bfchat). These forums offer a safe haven where moms can ask their breastfeeding questions and answer calls for support. We will also be sharing our love and dedication to moms and babies by giving away hundreds of breastfeeding support products throughout the month. We're making sure we do our part because every bit of support helps moms and babies carry on in their breastfeeding journeys.

Join breastfeeding moms and advocates by observing National Breastfeeding Month during the month of August. We look forward to celebrating with supporters across the United States and around the world. How are you doing your part to spread the breastfeeding love this month?