XENIA — August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio and Tuesday, Aug. 1 through Monday, Aug. 7 is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW).
Research suggests that breastfeeding is a key modifiable factor for disease for both mothers and infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Ohio’s 2016 breastfeeding initiation rate of 77.7 percent ranks 38th in the nation. This year’s 2017 Breastfeeding Awareness Month theme in Ohio is Breastfeeding: it’s a TEAM thing.
The theme is aimed to promote the support person’s 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.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) 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 lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community must cooperate and support breastfeeding,” said Tonja Lively, WIC Program Director at Greene County Public Health.
“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 for breastfeeding in their windows and educate their staffs on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments. They can also encourage their employees and provide 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.
Social media can also provide support to breastfeeding mothers through Facebook and Twitter. Breastfeeding mothers can reach out through groups and community forums and get the support they need to feel normal in a formula feeding culture.
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.
Greene County Public Health is proud to be an avid supporter of breastfeeding moms and encourages all new moms to stop by the Greene County Fair, Sunday, July 30 – Saturday, Aug. 5, and utilize the Breastfeeding Station at the Greene County Public Health trailer located between the assembly hall and the fair office. Information will be available on all public health programs and services and staff will be on hand to answer questions.
For more information about breastfeeding in Greene County, call the Help Me Grow Helpline at 800-755-GROW; Nancy Cohen, WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator, at 937-374-5642; or a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Helper at 937-374-5635 or 937-374-5637 or visit the website at www.gcph.info.
Story courtesy of Greene County Public Health.