“Breastfeeding: it’s a TEAM thing!”
August 7, 2017
The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) at Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Month this August. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Ohio’s 2014 breastfeeding initiation rate of 77.7 percent ranks 38th in the nation.
The Breastfeeding Peer Helpers at WIC are looking to increase Montgomery County’s breastfeeding rate by supporting this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month theme of “Breastfeeding: it’s a TEAM thing!” The theme is aimed to promote the support persons role in successful breastfeeding. Research shows that if a mother’s breastfeeding efforts are supported, she is more likely to give it a try, and more likely to keep going even if things get tough.
Research suggests that breastfeeding is a key modifiable factor to prevent disease for both mothers and infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate solid food for the first year and beyond.
“In light of the monetary and life-saving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of our community should support breastfeeding,” said Jeff Cooper, Health Commissioner, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
One of the most important things businesses and the community can do is to allow mothers to feel comfortable nursing in public. Hungry babies need to eat and Ohio law (Section 3781.55 of the Ohio Revised Code) allows breastfeeding in public. Businesses can show their support by placing the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” universal sign in their windows and educate their staff on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments. Call WIC’s Breastfeeding Peer Helpers at 937-225-5502 for a decal while they last.
Businesses can also encourage their employees to breastfeed by providing a private space, other than a bathroom, to pump. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs.
Hospitals can adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as an indication that they are dedicated to supporting new mothers who choose to breastfeed. By eliminating formula gifts to breastfeeding mothers, they send the message that they believe mothers can make enough milk to breastfeed exclusively.
Educational institutions can support breastfeeding by presenting age-appropriate education on the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Local county fairs can teach young children about how other mammals feed their young with milk that is made just for them. Child care providers and libraries can also stock children’s books that show breastfeeding as a normal part of family life.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice, but communities play a vital role in informing and supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby. Returning our communities back into a breastfeeding supportive culture will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals, and businesses. Breastfeeding mothers can reach out to other breast feeding mothers through groups on social media to get the support they need to feel normal in a formula-feeding culture.
For more information about breastfeeding in Montgomery County, please call the WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator at 937-225-4581 or the Help Me Grow Helpline at 1-800-755-GROW.