By Dr. Jennifer Yourkavitch and Sarah Edmonds
This Saturday brings to a close the thirtieth annual World Breastfeeding Week Campaign. The campaign, which has taken over social media with the hashtag #WBW2021, is celebrated every 1st–7th of August in commemoration of the 1990 Innocenti Declaration and aims to raise awareness and galvanize action on themes related to breastfeeding. This year’s theme “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility” focused on creating a warm chain of support for breastfeeding that expands beyond individual actions to include health systems, workplaces and communities at all levels of society.
Within the IH Section, we recognize the importance of breastfeeding as a public health issue in need of awareness and support. Many of our members work to increase that foundation of support, not just during World Breastfeeding Week, but in their day-to-day lives and professions, as well. One such member is Dr. Jennifer Yourkavitch, section liaison for the APHA Breastfeeding Forum, who recently shared information about her work and resources related to breastfeeding support with us:
Dr. Jennifer Yourkavitch
I am a perinatal and pediatric epidemiologist, and a board-certified lactation consultant. I conduct breastfeeding research with colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. We created a guide to promote the safety of lactation rooms during the pandemic: UPDATED Cleaning and Maintenance of Lactation Rooms During COVID-19 – PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION
[NOTE: The link to this guide will be updated to include the changing COVID-19 regulations within the coming week]
I also teach a class on milk expression monthly at my local birth center. And, I’m the director of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for USAID’s flagship nutrition project, USAID Advancing Nutrition, which includes several initiatives to support breastfeeding worldwide. I was breastfed and my mother is an advocate. When I started breastfeeding my daughter I realized how critical support for breastfeeding is, from every part of society.
As we move forward with campaigns and long-term initiatives to improve the support and resources for people who breastfeed, Dr. Yourkavitch reminds and urges us: “We need to elevate the voices of breastfeeding people. We can’t design effective programs, advocacy strategies, or research without their input.”