Community support urged for breastfeeding moms and babies

Press Staff Writer

        August is National and World Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and on Aug. 1, Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted signed a proclamation that Ohio is joining in the observance.
        “The State of Ohio joins the Surgeon General and the United States Breastfeeding Committee in the belief that Ohio breastfeeding rates will improve if social policy and community norms support breastfeeding mothers and babies,” the proclamation said.
        For this year’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Ohio has adopted the theme, “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet.” This theme focuses on the impact of infant feeding on the environment and climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people.            
        The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate solid food for the first year and beyond.
        The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Ohio’s 2018 breastfeeding initiation rate of 81.9 percent ranks 36th in the nation. The CDC also states that rates of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity are lower among Black infants than among white infants. Increasing rates of breastfeeding initiation and supporting continuation of breastfeeding among Black women might help reduce disparities in breastfeeding duration. Strategies may include improving peer and family support, access to evidence-based maternity care, and employment support.
        “In light of the financial and life-saving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the Wood County community must cooperate and support breastfeeding,” said Jackie Mears, Wood County WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Director. “Ultimately our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.”
        While breastfeeding is a personal choice, communities play a vital role in informing and supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby, Mears said, adding that returning our communities to a breastfeeding supportive culture will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals and businesses.
        The Wood County Health Department offers these suggestions for improving social policy and community norms to support breastfeeding mothers and babies.:
        • Businesses and the community members can help mothers feel comfortable nursing in public. Hungry babies need to eat, and Ohio law allows breastfeeding in public.
        • Businesses can show their support by placing the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” universal sign for breastfeeding in their windows and educating their staff on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments.
        • Employers can also encourage employees and provide a private space (other than a bathroom) to pump. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs.
        • Hospitals can adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” as an indication that they are dedicated to supporting new mothers who choose to breastfeed.
        • Educational institutions can support breastfeeding by presenting age-appropriate education on the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
        • Breastfeeding mothers can reach out through groups and chatrooms on social media to get the support they need.
        For more information about breastfeeding, contact a member of the Wood County WIC Breastfeeding Team at 419-354-9661 or
        The mission of Wood County Health Department is to prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and protect the health of everyone in Wood County. The department’s Community Health Center provides comprehensive medical services for men, women and children. All patients are welcome, including uninsured or underinsured clients, regardless of their ability to pay. Most third-party insurance is accepted. Visit for more details.


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