The San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition (SDCBC) is a non-profit association whose mission is to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. With the help from its members, the coalition is able to fulfill its mission through education and outreach in the community.
Breastfeeding is team work. It takes a whole village. Breastmilk is powerful stuff, but even moms determined to breastfeed can face all kinds of challenges. It can be a baby with tongue tie or lip tie who cannot suck efficiently. It can be an unsupportive or even hostile working environment. It can be postpartum mood disorder. Of the approximately 45,000 infants born each year in San Diego County, 89% have the opportunity to breastfeed in the hospital, but far fewer (less than 20%) receive any breastmilk by six months of age.
In response to the challenges, a group of concerned individuals formed SDCBC in May of 1994. For the past 23 years, the coalition has distributed more than 400,000 free Breastfeeding Resource Guides in English and Spanish to help families obtain needed breastfeeding resources and support, sponsored health care professional breastfeeding education programs, and conducted a county-wide billboard campaign, “GOOD HEALTH BEGINS WITH BREASTFEEDING.”
In just the past year, the coalition distributed 28 hospital-grade, multi-user and personal-use breast pumps to community clinics and local NICUs. SDCBC also publishes a biweekly e-mail Breastfeeding Update with the latest news and views and has continued to distribute more than 2,500 copies of the San Diego County Breastfeeding Resource Guide.
It hasn’t always been easy. This year, local lactation consultants reported to the coalition that hospitals were giving teen moms infant formula samples which created an impression that “medical professionals approve baby formula” and made it much harder for the consultants to encourage breastfeeding.
To promote breastfeeding-friendly efforts, the coalition sponsored a county-wide World Breastfeeding Week hospital celebration contest and recognized three hospitals. It further awarded the hospitals as breastfeeding-friendly workplaces.
The results have made an impact in the community with more hospitals commiting to the baby-friendly initiative and more employers supporting their employees. San Diego City’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick signed the City’s Lactation/Breastfeeding Accommodation Policy in March of 2017.
“Caring for young children is as challenging as it is rewarding,” said Mr. Chadwick. “We’re proud of our policy providing a positive workplace environment, reasonable accommodations and comfortable facilities that assist new mothers with their work-life balance.”
The City of San Diego was later named a “Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace” by SDCBC.