Just as the world is celebrating the Summer Olympics in China, the first week of August is celebrated the world over as World Breastfeeding Week. The goal of World Breastfeeding Week is to expand awareness of the need for and the value of providing support to a breastfeeding mother.
With this year’s theme, “going for the gold by supporting mothers to breastfeed,” the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies be fed with breast milk only – no formula – for the first six months of life. The benefits of breastfeeding children are well documented and include lower risks for: ear and respiratory infections, asthma, atopic dermatitis, gastroenteritis, Type 2 diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome, and childhood obesity. Even if a mother is able to breastfeed for only a short time, her baby’s immune system will still benefit from breast milk.
A mother’s need for support is similar to the needs of an Olympic athlete. Athletes combine determination and commitment with support from family, coaches, community, and others to compete successfully. In a similar way, a breastfeeding mother needs support to breastfeed. Both face challenges.
For breastfeeding mothers, these challenges include overcoming misinformation, breastfeeding while working outside the home, coping in emergency situations, and most importantly, overcoming doubts about one’s ability to breastfeed.
On behalf of the Franklin Health Breastfeeding Task Force, we ask you to help us celebrate World Breastfeeding Week by supporting the mothers in our community who breastfeed their babies throughout the year.
We offer you the following 10 ways to support a breastfeeding mom:
1. Offer a smile or words of encouragement;
2. Give breastfeeding related books or items as shower gifts;
3. Provide practical support: cook a meal and/or lend a hand with chores;
4. Provide privacy for breastfeeding;
5. Believe in a mother’s natural ability to breastfeed;
6. Give a mother the telephone number to the Birthing Center at Franklin Memorial Hospital (779- 2295) for breastfeeding support;
7. Tell a first time breastfeeding mother that she is doing just fine;
8. Bring the mother a nutritious snack and a big glass of water;
9. As an employer, accommodate a mother’s need to pump with a private comfortable space; and
10. Write to legislators to support the enactment of laws that support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding a baby is a community concern – a celebratory occasion in which everyone has a role to make it successful. A breastfeeding friendly environment needs supportive people in every corner.
– Daisy Goodman, CNM, WHNP is chairwoman of the Franklin Health Breastfeeding Task Force