August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio, and 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 percent ranks 36th in the nation.
For this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Ohio has adopted the theme: Empower Families, Support Breastfeeding. This theme focuses on the importance of supporting all members of a breastfeeding family as well as working to advocate for breastfeeding supportive environments in and around local communities.
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.
“Breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk for breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 Diabetes and postpartum depression, and it lowers the infant’s risk for obesity, lower respiratory infections, asthma and SIDS,” said Tracy Jennings, WIC Director for Delaware, Morrow and Union counties.
Jennings added that 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.
“Breastfeeding is a personal choice, but communities play a vital role in informing and supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby,” said Jennings. “Returning our communities back into a breastfeeding supportive culture will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals and businesses.”
For more information about breastfeeding in Delaware, Morrow, or Union counties, visit DelawareHealth.org or call the WIC office at (740) 203-2050.