The Fulton County Health Department reminds county residents that August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio. The state has adopted the theme “Empower Families, Support Breastfeeding.”
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 2018 breastfeeding initiation rate of 81.9% ranks 36th in the nation.
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 lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community must cooperate and support breastfeeding.” said Fulton County Health Commissioner Kim Cupp. “Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies, and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
She said one of the most important things businesses and the community can do is to allow mothers to feel comfortable nursing in public, which is permitted by the Ohio Revised Code. Businesses can place the universal“Breastfeeding Welcome Here” sign 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 restroom – to pump. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs.
Hospitals can adopt the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to support 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. Exhibitors at 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 stock children’s books that show breastfeeding as a normal part of family life.
Social media can provide support to breastfeeding mothers through Facebook and Twitter. Breastfeeding mothers can reach out through groups and chat rooms 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. For more information, contact the Fulton County or Henry County WIC program at 419-337-6979 or 419-591-3075, respectively.