Greene County News
XENIA — August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio and Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.
Research suggests that breastfeeding is a key modifiable factor for disease for both mothers and infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Ohio’s 2014 breastfeeding initiation rate of 70.1 percent ranks 43rd in the nation.
This year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month theme in Ohio is Breastfeeding Protects: Mom, Baby, and Earth. 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.
Governor John Kasich also recognized August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month with a resolution proclaiming the benefits of breastfeeding.
“In light of the monetary and life saving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community, must cooperate and support breastfeeding.” said Melissa Branum, Health Commissioner for Greene County Public Health. “Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
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 in their windows and educate their staff on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments. They can also encourage their employees and provide a private space (other than a bathroom) to pump. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs.
Hospitals can adopt the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as an indication that they are dedicated to supporting 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. 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 also stock children’s books that show breastfeeding as a normal part of family life.
Social media can also 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. Returning our communities back into a breastfeeding supportive culture will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals and businesses.
Greene County Public Health is an avid supporter of breastfeeding moms and encourages all new moms to stop by the Greene County Fair, July 31 – Aug. 6, and utilize the Breastfeeding Station at the Greene County Public Health trailer located between the assembly hall and the fair office. Information will be available on all public health programs and services and staff will be on hand to answer questions.
For more information about breastfeeding in Greene County, please call the Help Me Grow Helpline at 800-755-GROW; Nancy Cohen, WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator at 937-374-5642; or a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Helper at 937-374-5635 or 937-374-5637. You can also visit the website at www.gcph.info.