August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio and Aug. 1-7 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 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.
Preble County Public Health along with 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.
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 (available at the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program within the Health District) in their windows and educate their staff on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments. They can encourage their employees to breastfeed, and provide a private space, other than a bathroom, to pump. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs.
Hospitals and educational institutions, county fairs, and child care providers can support breastfeeding by presenting age appropriate education for parents and children.
Social media can also provide support to breastfeeding mothers through Facebook and Twitter. Breastfeeding mothers can reach out through groups and chatrooms 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.
For more information about breastfeeding in Preble County, please call the local WIC office at 937-456-5457 and ask for the breastfeeding peer helper or lactation consultant. We will be hosting a “Party in the Park” at Ft. Saint Clair at 5 p.m. on Aug. 24 to celebrate the support role played by most fathers and other individuals close to the breastfeeding mom and baby.
To keep up with other public health–related issues make sure to check out Preble County Public Health online at www.preblecountyhealth.org, through Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCoHealth and on Twitter at @PrebleCoHealth! We are also available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. by phone at 937-472-0087.