‘Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet’

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August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio. Research suggests that breastfeeding is a key modifiable factor for disease for both mothers and infants.

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Ohio’s 2018 breastfeeding initiation rate of 81.9 % ranks 36th in the nation. For this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Ohio will adopt the theme “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet.”

This theme focuses on the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people.

The CDC also states that rates of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity are lower among Black infants than among white infants.

Increasing rates of breastfeeding initiation and supporting continuation of breastfeeding among Black women might help reduce disparities in breastfeeding duration. Strategies might include improving peer and family support, access to evidence-based maternity care, and employment support.

“In light of the monetary and lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community, must cooperate and support breastfeeding,” said Renee Quallen Clinton County WIC Director. “Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”

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.

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.

Clinton Memorial Hospital (CMH) has adopted the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as an indication that they are dedicated to supporting new mothers who choose to breastfeed. CMH has International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) available to help new mothers with breastfeeding support.

Other ways the our community can support breastfeeding include: encouraging educational institutions to present age appropriate education on the anatomy and physiology of the human body; involving young children in 4-H and fairs that can teach them about how other mammals feed their young with milk; and any activity that show breastfeeding as a normal part of family life.


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