Last updated: August 16. 2014 9:43PM - 92 Views
By Edie Stroup Contributing Columnist

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August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month (BAM) and The Ohio Women Infants and Children (WIC) program has chosen, “Keep Calm and Carry-on Breastfeeding” as it’s 2014 BAM theme. This playful theme is serious in the purpose of protecting and supporting breastfeeding women in achieving their personal breastfeeding goals.

So how does Ohio add up compared to the rest of the nation and to the national goals targeted in the Healthy People 2020 Objectives? According to the United States 2014 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, in 2011 70 percent of infants born in Ohio were breastfed. The national average was 79.2 percent and the targeted goal is set at 81.9 percent. Our duration rates show that 42.1 percent of babies in Ohio were still breastfeeding at six months. This was comparable to the national average at 49.4 percent but we are still quite a distance from the targeted goal set at 60.6 percent.

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 pose a sizeable barrier, making it difficult for mothers and infants. It is important to remember that fathers, family, friends, healthcare providers, employers, childcare providers, communities, and even the media play a crucial role in mother’s overall success with breastfeeding.

Meeting and even surpassing the goals mentioned in this article is important considering the well documented evidence that breast milk is important for the health and well-being of both mother and infant. There is no other more natural food in the world than breastmilk. With no artificial preservatives or additives it is perfectly designed human milk for human babies. It amazingly changes to meet a baby’s changing nutritional needs. Breastmilk is the perfect, irreplaceable gift a mother can give to her baby.

Economically breastfeeding makes sense, as the Ohio Board of Health has figures that show if 90 percent of infants were breastfed exclusively for the recommended six months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent in excess of 911 deaths because of the decrease in the amount of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It can also decrease medical expenses because numbers show breastfed babies need less medical attention. Plus savings in formula costs per year that range from $1,400 to $2,800.

The Madison County WIC program would like to say thank you to those in our community that continue to give their support to our breastfeeding mothers. As it truly does take a village of support to make change happen. Together if we all Keep Calm and Carry-on we can make breastfeeding a Madison County cultural norm.

To learn more about breastfeeding or to register for a breastfeeding class contact the Madison County WIC office at (740) 852-3068.

Edie Stroup RN, DTR, CLC is the Breastfeeding Coordinator with Madison County WIC, located within the Madison County/London City Health District.

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