Communities Need to Work Together to Provide Support for Breastfeeding Mothers
DELAWARE, Oh. – August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio and Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). The last week in August is celebrated as Black Breastfeeding Week. 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 percent 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.
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.
Breastfeeding mothers can reach out for support through the Delaware General Health District WIC office by calling 740-203-2050 or visiting DelawareHealth.org
Learn more about breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic: