As if the ongoing shortages of baby formula aren’t enough of a reminder, there is a whole month devoted to public awareness of the importance of breastfeeding our newest members of society, and the publics shared responsibility in supporting that decision for those who can breastfeed.
The month of August is National Breastfeeding Month and August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. Both are annual celebrations of breastfeeding that encourage families, communities, and the world to support breastfeeding to improve the health of mothers and babies.
Readers are invited to join the Chaffee County Breastfeeding Coalition in celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturday, August 6 from at the Salida Farmers Market. The organization will have a booth with snacks, kids’ activities, chair massages, and infant massage instruction. At 10:00 a.m. you are invited to celebrate all families who have given their child human milk in the last year.
This year’s theme is Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support. This theme emphasizes that breastfeeding is a team effort. Breastfeeding requires information and many circles of support to create an environment that empowers families to breastfeed. With close support from partners, families, friends, employers, child care providers, health care providers, and communities breastfeeding success improves.
In Colorado families want to breastfeed – in fact, more than 90 percent of families choose to initiate breastfeeding according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Breastfeeding Report Card. Chaffee County has similar initiation rates. However, many families fall short of the goals they have for themselves and do not reach the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of an infant’s life, followed by the introduction of complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years or longer if mutually desired.
Studies show that breastfed infants are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, some childhood cancers, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and less likely to become obese later in life. Additionally, research estimates that if 90 percent of Americans breastfed exclusively for six months, greater than 3,330 lives and more than $3 million in health care costs could be saved each year!
Breastfeeding not only directly impacts the health of the family but also has an impact on the health of the entire community and the world. Breastfeeding is a low-cost way of feeding babies, helping to reduce poverty and prevent hunger, undernutrition, and obesity.
While we understand and respect that not all families choose to breastfeed, some parents may not be able to breastfeed, and supplementation is sometimes medically necessary, we also believe that all families deserve a chance at successful breastfeeding if they choose. In order for families to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding, support is needed in all areas of our society.
Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH), the Chaffee County Breastfeeding Coalition, and countless other partners have worked tirelessly over the last years to make Chaffee County an easy place to breastfeed a baby. Our local hospital and medical providers enthusiastically support breastfeeding and have shown their dedication to families by creating policies that support breastfeeding, becoming educated in the latest breastfeeding knowledge, and connecting families with breastfeeding-specific professional and social support.
Other support structures that exist in Chaffee County: nurse home visitation programs with lactation professionals, the Chaffee County Breastfeeding Coalition, The Lactation Connection – a local support group, breastfeeding friendly employers, breastfeeding-friendly childcare providers and schools, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
For questions, or to get involved with the Chaffee County Breastfeeding Coalition, contact CCPH at 719-539-4510