The first week of August 2013 was World Breastfeeding Week, and it was celebrated worldwide. The theme was Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. It highlights the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.
Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions new families make. Evidence shows that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed an infant. Research shows that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses.
Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, with a lower risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and other health advantages.
Most mothers want to breastfeed. But many face multiple and complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement from all angles can make success possible for mothers who wish to breastfeed. Negative attitudes from the mother’s closest support network, her family and friends, can pose a big barrier, making it difficult for mothers and infants to successfully breastfeed.
Elizabeth Brooks, International Lactation Consultant Association president, said, “Learning how to breastfeed takes time and patience for new mothers and infants. It is important to remember families, friends, healthcare providers, employers, childcare providers, communities, and even the media play a crucial role in mother’s overall success with breastfeeding.”
The right kind of breastfeeding support can build a mother’s confidence with breastfeeding — and the local community plays an important role in this.
Healthcare providers and legislators can support breastfeeding by adopting policies and practices that assume breastfeeding is the normal feeding method for infants.
Employers can provide support by ensuring mothers have a private place, and flexible work options for mothers to express milk. They can provide flexible feeding schedules that coordinate with parent’s need.
Breastfeeding peer counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, the Women Infants and Children program, hospital and health department lactation consultants can all provide a wealth of knowledge and support to breastfeeding families.
The state of Oregon provides state laws supporting back-to-work breastfeeding mothers. Also, to further support breastfeeding, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a Breastfeeding Proclamation encouraging all Oregonians to join in the observance of Breastfeeding Promotion Month.
Parents interested in joining a breastfeeding support group can contact Jennifer McCauley at 541-387-6344 or Ellen Mallon at 541-387-7131.
Healthy Active Hood River County is our community healthy living coalition. We promote wellness through increased physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention and policy and environmental change.
Join us at our next meeting, Nov. 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the boardroom at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.