Month: August 2018

82,000 People Standing up for Moms and Babies Worldwide

Last week – together with MomsRising, Care2 and Public Citizen – we delivered over 82,000 signatures to Nestle, calling on the company (and the other major infant formula manufacturers) to stop their unethical marketing of infant formula.

Watch the petition delivery.

Thanks to the energy of our collective community and the outrage that infant formula companies are prioritizing their profit over the health of moms and babies – representatives from Nestle agreed to meet with us to receive the petition signatures and hear our concerns.

During the meeting we made two clear asks.

  1. Nestle publicly commit to upholding global rules around marketing infant formula (known as the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes) in all countries; and
  2. Nestle publicly commit to cease from lobbying to undermine global efforts to protect breastfeeding.

In the coming weeks we will see if and how Nestle decides to respond to our collective asks. But we are encouraged by the ongoing commitment from individuals and organizations to protect the health of moms and babies worldwide.

An Incredible Opportunity: Breastfeeding & Social Media

1,000 Days recently organized a day-long workshop in Nigeria with several partners working to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. Together with 43 representatives from 20 different local organizations and governmental agencies, including Alive & Thrive, UNICEF, Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Nigeria Ministry of Health and many others, we sparked a robust discussion about what is possible when using social media to promote breastfeeding. The workshop covered a range of topics and participants brainstormed and worked together to identify what a social media campaign for breastfeeding in Nigeria might look like.

Breastfeeding in Nigeria
While nearly ALL women in Nigeria breastfeed, only 17% of newborns are exclusively breastfed and early initiation of breastfeeding remains well below the regional and global averages. In turn, Nigeria has a high rate of malnourished children, ranking second globally and first in Africa.

Many factors contribute to low rates of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria including lack of supportive policies and programs (like no paid maternity leave) and little access to quality health care (very few villages even have a health care facility). But on top of these structural barriers, misconceptions around infant feeding—such as that infants also need water in the first few months—also play a major role in inhibiting exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria. It is important that widespread public health messages help to break down common misconceptions and encourage a positive environment for mothers to exclusively breastfeed.

The Case for Social Media
Social media platforms – such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram – have a growing influence in Nigeria, with over 20 million active monthly users on Facebook alone. In the Kpaduma community we visited, an estimated 75-80% of women in have mobile phones, a more commonly accessible amenity than even toilets. This is a largely untapped communications platform for public health resources and support.

By amplifying messages on social media about the benefits of breastfeeding, we can increase awareness among a larger population of people online, where increasingly more Nigerians are turning for information.

Look closely – the woman pictured in Kpaduma community is holding a mobile phone.

Imagine the possibilities of reaching over 20 million Nigerians with information about the benefits of breastfeeding! This would be a significant step forward in creating an environment for the better supports women to reach their personal breastfeeding goals. By combining the power of social media with ongoing education campaign carried out by local partners, we can reach many more moms (and dads!) with messages that encourage optimal feeding practices.

Our Work
It was with this knowledge in mind that 1,000 Days organized a day-long workshop with partners already working to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in Nigeria. The energy level in the room was incredible – only increasing as the day progressed, with everyone dedicated to utilizing every opportunity to better support moms and babies.

We look forward to continuing to share resources and trainings with these partners. This is clearly just the beginning for this incredibly passionate group of advocates!

When It Comes to Paid Leave, the Details Matter

Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Representative Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) released a new paid leave proposal to provide new parents the time they desperately need to care for themselves and their newborns. While the bill – titled the Economic Security for New Parents Act – sounds good, it is flawed for several reasons:

  1. The Rubio bill forces parents to choose between paid time off now and their retirement security later. According to the proposal, parents will have the option to borrow from their own Social Security savings in order to finance their paid leave. But in doing so, they will have to delay the date at which they can begin receiving their retirement benefits. Analysis of this plan indicates it would “erode participants’ retirement security.” It may also have devastating effects on low-wage workers in particular – who are predominantly women and women of color – who are already the least likely to have paid leave through their employer and who will rely heavily on their social security when they retire.
  2. The Rubio bill does not provide sufficient wage replacement. According to the Urban Institute’s analysis, the program would replace roughly half of the earnings for typical new parents. Yet, we know from the few states with paid leave policies that when wage replacement is too low, families cannot afford to take the leave they need.
  3. The Rubio bill only provides paid leave for new parents, excluding the significant needs of America’s workers to care for a loved one or recover from an injury or illness themselves. In fact, 75 percent of people that take unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) take leave for these reasons.

During the press conference to announce this new bill, Senator Rubio stated: “Issues that are about our children and their families should not be ideological or partisan.” At 1,000 Days we completely agree with this statement, and are encouraged to see that more and more policymakers on Capitol Hill and in state capitals across the country are getting the message that America workers need paid leave. But the details matter.

As the debate around a national paid leave policy continues, we urge Members of Congress to prioritize a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy – like the FAMILY Act – that helps ALL working parents in the U.S. give their children the strongest start to life.

August is Breastfeeding Month

Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) AND National Breastfeeding Month. All month long, people around the world are celebrating the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, while continuing the fight to ensure women have the support they need to breastfeed.

Join us and pledge your support for women to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.

The evidence is clear – breastfeeding saves lives by protecting babies from life-threatening infections and illnesses. If babies were breastfed early and exclusively for the first 6 months, over 820,000 lives could be saved each year!

A world in which women receive support to breastfeed is a world in which women and children thrive. Enabling women to breastfeed for as long as they desire would result in less illness and disease, as breastfeeding plays a key protective role for infant health. Fewer children would die from diarrhea and pneumonia – two of the leading causes of child mortality globally – as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)—a leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S.

And it’s not just babies who benefit from breastfeeding. When a mother breastfeeds, she reduces her risk of developing ovarian cancer, breast cancer and heart disease.

Even with all these benefits, there is still a troubling lack of support for breastfeeding women around the world. NO country (including the United States) offers moms the support they need to reach their breastfeeding goals.

This year, let’s commit to creating a world where every mom has the support she needs to breastfeed.

Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Pledge your support for women to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.
  2. Add an “I Support Breastfeeding” Frame to your Facebook Profile.
  3. Share your breastfeeding experience and tell us who supported you on your breastfeeding journey, or who you supported to reach their breastfeeding goals.

No one breastfeeds alone – and we ALL have a role to play in supporting breastfeeding. Thank you for joining us this month to support moms and babies everywhere to have a healthy first 1,000 days.

Interested in learning more? Check out our Inspiration Guide with key facts, stats and graphics that illustrate the benefits of breastfeeding.