Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers

World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated worldwide August 1-7, 2013.  The 2013 World Breastfeeding Week theme, Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, highlights the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.  World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated globally by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).  For more information on this yearly observance, visit the WABA website at www.waba.org.my. 
 
Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions that new families make. Evidence is clear that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed an infant. Research shows that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses. Breastfeeding for 9 months reduces a baby’s odds of becoming overweight by more than 30% (CDC). Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
 
Despite most mothers wanting to breastfeed, many are met with multiple and complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement from all angles can make success possible for mothers who wish to breastfeed. Negative attitudes and practices of the mother’s closest support network can make it difficult for mothers and babies to successfully breastfeed. “Learning how to breastfeed takes time and patience for new mothers and infants. It is important to remember that families, friends, healthcare providers, employers, childcare providers, communities, and even the media play a crucial role in mother’s overall success with breastfeeding,” said Elizabeth Brooks, President of the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®). 
 
Appropriate breastfeeding support can build a mother’s confidence with breastfeeding. “It is critical that breastfeeding families be supported by their community. This support can be expressed by healthcare providers adopting policies and practices that assume breastfeeding as the normal feeding method for infants, by employers providing a private place and flexible work options to express breastmilk during the work day, or by childcare providers talking to new families about how they support breastfeeding,” said Brooks. Breastfeeding peer counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, and Lactation Educators, Lactation Counselors, and Lactation Consultants work in communities and can provide a wealth of knowledge to breastfeeding families.  Lactation Counselors are able to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) agencies, health departments, healthcare provider offices, and private practice.  Lactation counselors may teach breastfeeding classes and provide services to increase breastfeeding rates in communities and advocate for positive change in societies attitudes about breastfeeding.  
 
  In 2011, the in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding was 14.3% for babies born in Colusa County.  To increase breastfeeding support in our community, Colusa County Public Health and First 5 Colusa have organized a Certified Lactation Counselor Training Course through the Center for Breastfeeding.  It will be held February 3-7, 2014 at the Colusa Casino Banquet Facility.  For more information on becoming a Lactation Counselor and registration for this training course, please visit http://www.healthychildren.cc/ or call Colusa County Public Health at 1-800-655-3110.  
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