Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County is celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August.
This year’s theme “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet” focuses on the importance of supporting all members of a breastfeeding family, as well as working to advocate for breastfeeding supportive environments that contribute to healthier local communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization 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 reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. In addition, breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers and reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while nearly 6 in 10 infants are still breastfeeding at 6 months of age, only 1 in 4 are breastfeeding exclusively. Also Black infants are 15% less likely to have ever been breastfed than White infants. Montgomery County Health Commissioner, Jeff Cooper explains, “We must continue to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and provide support to nursing mothers and families. Our community benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
Breastfeeding is a personal choice, but communities play a vital role in informing and supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby. Encouraging a breastfeeding supportive culture within our communities will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals and businesses.
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 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.
For more information about breastfeeding in Montgomery County call Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) at (937) 225-4491.