The Norwalk Health Department recognizes World Breastfeeding Week this week and National Breastfeeding Month during the entire month of August. The Health Department encourages moms to learn more about breastfeeding and urges the community to support families in their breastfeeding goals. The Health Department educates, encourages, and supports mothers in their breastfeeding goals through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and other outreach efforts. In addition to providing education and support, the Health Department also offers a private space at the office for clients to breastfeed or pump.
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Month is, “Together we can do great things.” This month’s theme emphasizes the importance of working together as a community to support mothers and families through their breastfeeding journey to improve the overall health of all mothers and children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding through at least 1 year along with complimentary foods. Unfortunately, only about 58% of infants in the United States are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life.
Research shows that babies who receive only breast milk for the first 6 months of life are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, obesity, and respiratory illnesses. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
However, breastfeeding has its rewards and challenges, mothers need a team comprised of family, friends and healthcare professionals to support them so they can achieve their goals. This breastfeeding team can include family, friends, physicians, nurses, midwives, employers, and childcare providers. Together, the breastfeeding team provides information to boost confidence, protects mothers from criticism, gives reassurance, and lends a hand to help breastfeeding mothers succeed. Team members with special skills and knowledge about breastfeeding, such as a peer counselor, certified lactation counselor, or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®), can be especially helpful. In addition, employers can support their employees’ breastfeeding goals in several ways, including providing paid maternity leave, offering private locked space in the office for pumping, and allowing flexible break times.
For more information:
• The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action: www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org
• The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/index.html
• CT Breastfeeding Coalition: http://www.breastfeedingct.org/
• The Norwalk Health Department WIC Program: http://www.norwalkct.org/768/Women-Infants-Children-WIC
• Breastfeeding USA: https://breastfeedingusa.org/
• La Leche League International: https://www.llli.org/
• Read set baby https://www.readysetbabyonline.com/resources/connecticut-resources/
• WIC Breastfeeding support https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/