August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio. Research suggests that breastfeeding is a key factor in decreasing disease for mothers and infants.
This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding, Foundation For Life.” The theme focuses on breastfeeding as a key to preventing hunger and malnutrition by ensuring food security for babies. By decreasing the burden on household income, breastfeeding provides a low-cost way to feed babies, which contributes to poverty reduction.
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.
“In light of the monetary and life saving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community should cooperate and support breastfeeding,” says the local WIC office of the Fayette County Public Health. “Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
As a community we can help our mothers feel comfortable by allowing them to breastfeed in public places such as restaurants, theaters and churches. It is a state law that women are allowed to breastfeed in any public place.
We can all support breastfeeding by encouraging mothers to nurse their babies, by reading books to young children about nursing and how mammals feed their young such as dogs, cats, cattle and horses. Social media can provide support to young mothers through Facebook and Twitter. Breastfeeding mothers can reach out through groups and chat rooms to get the support they need to feel normal in a formula feeding culture.
Breastfeeding is a personal choice, but communities can 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 effort by family, friends, employers, schools, doctors offices, hospitals and businesses.
For more information about breastfeeding or monthly classes (open to the public), please call the health department, 740-335-5910, and ask to speak to Jeannie Bihl R.N., Breastfeeding Coordinator.