Research has shown that breastfed infants have lower incidence of infectious and chronic diseases and breastfeeding mothers experience increased child spacing, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. And Healthy People 2020 set a target of 81.9% of infants ever breastfed and 60.6% of infants breastfeeding at 6 months. Yet in Mississippi, the breastfeeding rates remain the lowest in the nation, with only 52% of mothers initiating breastfeeding and 23.9% breastfeeding at 6 months (2016 CDC Breastfeeding Report). This collaboration seeks to not only address upstream barriers to breastfeeding, but also to transform the culture surrounding breastfeeding in Mississippi in order to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration, decrease infant mortality and childhood obesity, and improve birth spacing.


BUILD and its communities apply bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven (BUILD) approaches to improve health in communities that are adversely affected by upstream factors.


This project aims to radically change policies, regulations, and systems surrounding breastfeeding in Mississippi by targeting structures that support breastfeeding initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 6 months. One example is the establishment of a Baby Café (connecting mothers with others with breastfeeding experience) which provides access to breastfeeding support and an opportunity to remove the access barrier.


Several upstream issues lead to decreased breastfeeding initiation/duration rates in Jackson, including: a deficit of social support for mothers interested in breastfeeding; workplaces that do not support breastfeeding mothers; and cultural norms that discourage breastfeeding. This program addresses these issues head on through Baby Cafés and promotion of the “Family Friendly” designation program that educates employers on the benefits of breastfeeding.


All partners have a shared interest in improving breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in Mississippi. Each has joined this collaborative to help improve the health of mothers, children, and the overall health of the Jackson, MS, community.


Community members are engaged via dialogue sessions to steer the intervention activities and allow  community members to develop a new narrative surrounding breastfeeding. These sessions help determine community member’s perception and knowledge of breastfeeding; provide research-based information on breastfeeding; determine high traffic areas in which to locate Baby Cafés; and determine local businesses to target for “Family Friendly” designations.


Data is collected regularly from Baby Café and businesses to evaluate and track progress or changes around breastfeeding. This information is shared with the grant advisory team to allow for revisions to the implementation plan.