The Norwalk Health Department recognizes World Breastfeeding Week this week and National Breastfeeding Month during the entire month of August. The Health Department encourages moms to learn more about breastfeeding and urges the community to support families in their breastfeeding goals. The Health Department educates, encourages, and supports mothers in their breastfeeding goals through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and other outreach efforts. In addition to providing education and support, the Health Department also offers a private space at the office for clients to breastfeed or pump.
“Breastfeeding isn’t just about milk,” explained Kestine Osbourne, MS, RD, CLC, WIC Nutritionist. “It’s also about a loving bond and a gift that lasts a lifetime.”
This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is, “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.” To celebrate National Breastfeeding Month, the department will spread the message about breastfeeding and its benefits to the masses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research shows that babies who receive only breast milk for the first 6 months of life are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, obesity, and respiratory illnesses. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
However, exclusive breastfeeding can be challenging, and mothers need a team of helpers and healthcare professionals to support them so they can achieve their goals. This breastfeeding team can include family, friends, physicians, nurses, midwives, employers, and childcare providers. Together, the breastfeeding team provides information to boost confidence, protects mothers from criticism, gives reassurance, and lends a hand to help breastfeeding mothers succeed. Team members with special skills and knowledge about breastfeeding, such as a peer counselor, certified lactation counselor, or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®), can be especially helpful. In addition, employers can support their employees’ breastfeeding goals in several ways, including providing paid maternity leave, offering private locked space in the office for pumping, and allowing flexible break times.
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