World Breastfeeding Week takes place August 1-7 along with National Breastfeeding Month. Breastfeeding plays an important role in the health of our community. Breast milk provides essential nutrition for the infant and supports a healthy body throughout a lifetime! Along with essential nutrients like fat and carbohydrates, breast milk offers vital bacteria that help support healthy digestion for years to come. There are also unique Antibodies made in breast milk that fight viruses which reduce the risk of ear infection, respiratory infections, diarrhea, colds, coughs, and other illnesses.
The breastfed baby stays healthier which saves money! There are less doctor visits, less medications, and less time parents have to take off work. Breastfeeding also saves the government money in the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program since formula is not purchased for the infant. Time and money is spent on purchasing and washing bottles when supplementing occur which is a stress on the family. Formula use also adds up to a lot of trash which is a strain on the environment.
Moms benefit from breastfeeding too! When mothers breastfeed they have a lower risk of postpartum hemorrhaging along with lowering their risk for osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. The production of Oxytocin or “love hormone” that is necessary for breast milk production can help ward off depression or the “Baby Blues.” Pregnancy weight comes off quickly as a result of all the calories a nursing baby takes from the mom. Exclusively breastfeeding during the first 6 months can also lower chance of pregnancy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and WIC recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months then offering solid foods such as fruits and vegetables along with breastfeeding until at least 1 year but continuing for as long as mother and child see fit. Breastfeeding should occur “on demand” or without a schedule due to the baby’s changing needs throughout the day. Since breastfeeding not only offers perfect nutrition but also medicine and comfort, a baby nurses for a variety of reasons.
Breastfeeding mothers need proper support from their families, work places, and community to be successful. Family members should encourage new moms and make them comfortable by providing drinks, snacks, and help with the housework. Fortunately we have a few laws in place that secure women’s rights to nurse as they see fit. When a breastfeeding mother returns to work she should be allowed adequate space and break time to pump (Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act). They should be made comfortable and welcome in any public place. A mother should never be asked to move if she is breastfeeding in a place where her and her child are allowed (RSMo. 191.918).
The Pike County Health Department is dedicated to supporting women throughout their breastfeeding journeys. Resources, information, and tools, including breast pumps are available. Prenatal and postnatal moms who come to the Pike County Health Department WIC office are offered information, education, support, and a listening ear from Leah Diffey, the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, along with the rest of the supportive staff.
The Breastfeeding Peer Counseling program provides one-on-one support and in-depth counseling to prenatal and postnatal women who have questions or concerns about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding classes are also offered every month. The department is proud to play a role in the successful breastfeeding journey so that both mother and baby can experience all of the health benefits and bonding that breastfeeding has to offer.
“I’m available by phone anytime for our moms who have concerns or questions about breastfeeding, any day of the week (573-470-0223). Sometimes a listening ear and a word of encouragement from someone who has been through it is all a mom needs to confidentially continue breastfeeding. Or sometimes a bit of information helps the process make a lot more sense. Moms need support and that’s what I’m here for,” said Leah Diffey, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor.
In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, PCHD will be hosting a Breastfeeding Awareness Walk and Celebration on August 7th at 10:00. We will meet at the Bowling Green City Park under the pavilion by the concession stand. There will be a walk around the park so moms are encour¬aged to bring their strollers or carriers. Pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and their support are welcome to attend this free event. There will be refreshments, grab bags, and a chance to win some amazing prizes that have been generously donated from the following companies: Boppy, Tula, Motherlove, Mommygear, Beachfront Baby, Baby K’tan, Milkies, Madela, Cake Lingerie, Figure8, Milk Snob, Belly Moms, and Dr. Brown’s. For more information you can contact Leah Diffey at 573-324-2111 or follow our Facebook Page “Natural Nursers- PCHD Breastfeeding Support Group.”