BUCYRUS — August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Ohio and this 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 report that Ohio’s 2016 breastfeeding initiation rate of 77.7 percent ranks 38th in the nation. For this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Ohio will adopt the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) theme: Breastfeeding, Foundation of Life. This 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, must cooperate and support breastfeeding” said Kathy Bushey, WIC Director. “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 staffs 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.