Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding
Of the approximately 40,000 infants born each year in San Diego County, 89 % have the opportunity to breastfeed in the hospital, but far fewer (less than 20 percent) receive any breastmilk by six months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Dietetic Association, the U.S. Surgeon General, WHO/UNICEF, and many other organizations recognize, and are actively promoting, breastmilk as the optimum food for infants. In 1997 and again in 2007, the California Department of Health Services published “Breastfeeding: Investing in California’s Future” to support and guide breastfeeding efforts in the state. A The San Diego community has also made the promotion and support of breastfeeding a priority.
In response to the documented benefits of breastfeeding for the infant, the mother, the family and society as a whole, a group of concerned individuals and organizations, both private and public, formed the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition (SDCBC) in May 1994 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) association whose mission is to promote and support breastfeeding through education and outreach in the community. (Click here to view our Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals in our Strategic Plan)
In pursuing our mission, a few of the Coalition’s accomplishments include:
- Distribution of over 400,000 Breastfeeding Resource Guides (English and Spanish) to help families obtain necessary breastfeeding resources and support;
- Multiple health care professional breastfeeding education programs;
- A county-wide billboard campaign “Good Health Begins With Breastfeeding”;
- Development and distribution of educational materials for employers and employees on working and breastfeeding, in conjunction with the March of Dimes and Rady Children’s Hospital;
- Creation and distribution of an interactive CD “Breastfeeding and the Bottom Line” for businesses and human resource professionals;
- A “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” window-sticker program to encourage patronage of breastfeeding-friendly establishments;
- Donation of over 200 breastfeeding books to San Diego County Libraries;
- Donation of over 200 breastfeeding and medication reference books to our County emergency rooms and neonatal intensive care units;
- Providing informational materials to the public and healthcare professionals at various community events and educational conferences;
- Production and distribution of an evidence-based newsletter “Breastfeeding Update” for healthcare professionals and the community at large;
- Maintaining a frequently visited website, www.breastfeeding.org, hosting important and relevant information for the community;
- Presenting annual San Diego County Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Awards to honor San Diego County businesses with breastfeeding-friendly policies and programs for their employees;
- Produced and distributed a breastfeeding rights pocket card in English and Spanish to support breastfeeding families with current California laws supporting breastfeeding;
- Produced and distributed a low literacy English and Spanish breastfeeding teaching flipchart for Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP) low income prenatal offices and clinics.
The Coalition holds monthly Board meetings (all are welcome to attend) and every other month full Coalition meetings with an hour of business and networking followed by an hour-long continuing medical education (CME) program on important breastfeeding topics. Participants receive CME credit through Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego – an important and continuing partner in our efforts. The general Coalition meetings are rotated to hospitals all around the County to facilitate participation by as many community partners as possible.
Dedicated community volunteers generously contribute their time to perform SDCBC activities. The SDCBC depends on memberships, conference proceeds, small grants and donations to fund our activities. With grants from the March of Dimes, the American Academy of Pediatrics, San Diego County First Five and significant in kind contributions from many San Diego institutions, we have managed to address many community breastfeeding needs in a limited, but effective, manner. With additional funds and volunteers we can do much more to address the needs of underserved and high-risk populations in our community! Breastfeeding is cost-effective, preventive medicine and should be the norm in our population. YOU can help by becoming a member or sponsor of the SDCBC.