Breastfeeding Depends On Community Support
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 countyhealth.com.