Breast­feed­ing De­pends On Com­mu­nity Sup­port

McDonald County Press - - COMMUNITY -

Breast­feed­ing pro­vides ba­bies with the best pos­si­ble start in life. It also has ma­jor health ben­e­fits for the mother.

Breast milk is free, nat­u­ral and re­new­able, pro­duced and de­liv­ered with­out pol­lu­tion, pack­ag­ing or waste —the per­fect nu­tri­tional food for ba­bies. Breast­feed­ing is the key con­trib­u­tor to the health and well-be­ing of in­fants and moth­ers.

But breast­feed­ing is not just a woman’s is­sue or her sole re­spon­si­bil­ity. Suc­cess­ful breast­feed­ing de­pends on the sup­port of the whole com­mu­nity. Yes, we need a com­mu­nity ef­fort to help breast­feed­ing women suc­ceed at reach­ing the goal of ex­clu­sively breast­feed­ing their in­fant for the first six months of life.

“There are sev­eral things we can do as a com­mu­nity to sup­port breast­feed­ing moth­ers,” says McDon­ald County Health De­part­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor Paige Behm.

En­cour­age moth­ers to ini­ti­ate breast­feed­ing within the first hour of their baby’s life. This means talk­ing to preg­nant women about the ben­e­fits of breast­feed­ing, lis­ten­ing to any con­cerns they have or any bar­ri­ers they an­tic­i­pate, and then look­ing for ways to ad­dress those con­cerns or bar­ri­ers.

Nor­mal­ize breast­feed­ing as the health­i­est, sus­tain­able way to feed ba­bies. This means al­low­ing women to breast­feed their baby on de­mand, even in pub­lic places.

Sup­port breast­feed­ing moth­ers as they re­turn to work. Mis­souri busi­nesses are re­quired by law to pro­vide an ad­e­quate, pri­vate place for women to breast­feed. More than that, though, we en­cour­age or­ga­ni­za­tions to have a breast­feed­ing-friendly at­ti­tude, from the man­age­ment level down to the line level. Women should be al­lowed to con­tinue breast­feed­ing at work with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion. Stud­ies show busi­nesses that sup­port breast­feed­ing moth­ers have a higher em­ployee re­ten­tion rate, lower use of sick days and im­proved morale.

Sup­port vul­ner­a­ble moth­ers, such as teens or sin­gle moth­ers. Th­ese moth­ers may not have their own strong sup­port sys­tem, and may need ex­tra com­mu­nity sup­port to suc­ceed at breast­feed­ing.

“By work­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity, we can help cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows women and their ba­bies to breast­feed suc­cess­fully and thrive!” adds Behm. “Work with us as we help to make McDon­ald County breast­feed­ing friendly! We all have a part to play.”

Learn more on Face­book, by call­ing 417-223-7122 or by vis­it­ing www.mcdon­ald coun­ty­

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