The theme for World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, is “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal — For Life.” The message, announced by The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), indicates how important it is to increase and sustain the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding for moms and babies.
Doctors, nurses, and nutritionists agree that breast milk is the only food a baby needs for the first six months of life and that it helps the baby grow normally and protects the baby from many common illnesses.
The many benefits “for life” are supported by evidence-based research. Some of these benefits are that breastfeeding can prevent obesity, cancer, allergies and ear infections.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) provides major provisions to encourage mothers to initiate and continue breastfeeding.
The law requires health insurance to provide “comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breast-feeding equipment.” Breastfeeding equipment includes a breast pump that enables the mother to save milk for her baby if and when she needs to return to work.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, nationally, more than three of every four new mothers begin breastfeeding. That is a wonderful statistic, but there is more news. Once these mothers return to work, many do not continue to breastfeed if they are not provided accommodations to express milk during the work period.
In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH) recently announced the launch of “Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions.” This resource includes photos and stories of 200 businesses representing 22 industry sectors in 29 states throughout the United States.
The new resource is designed to assist businesses with implementing Section 4207 of the ACA. This section amends Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and requires employers of hourly workers to provide private space that is not a bathroom as well as reasonable time for employees who are breastfeeding to express their milk while they are at work. For more information, go to www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/at-work.
The Franklin County Health Department and its Women, Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) are trying to do their part in supporting the breastfeeding mothers.
Kentucky WIC remains a leader in lactation support and promotion, in part, by providing lactation support and breast pumps for women in our community.
Please call the health department at 502-564-7647 or visit www.fchd.org for information on WIC and lactation support.
Sally Brunner is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Consultant and Clinic Nurse Supervisor at the Franklin County Health Department, 100 Glenn’s Creek Road.