August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Submitted by District Health Dept. No. 10
BIG RAPIDS — August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Breastfeeding & Work: Let’s Make it Work!” which targets encouraging and supporting employees who are breastfeeding in the workplace.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and District Health Department No. 10 Women, Infants and Children (WIC) invite residents to join in celebrating the new law protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed anywhere she has a right to be.

According to Meryl Smith, registered dietitian and certified lactation specialist, “inviting and encouraging moms to breastfeed anytime and anywhere will help change the culture around breastfeeding in public. This will increase the number of moms who initiate breastfeeding and hopefully nurse their babies longer. All of this will lead to healthier children for generations to come.”

According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, these are the benefits of protecting the mother at the workplace:

n Mothers and babies are healthier, more rested and less stressed, therefore less absenteeism.

n The entire family benefits from job security, cash and medical benefits and peace of mind.

n Because babies are healthier, families, businesses and nations save on healthcare costs with lower morbidity and mortality rates.

Communities can support mothers and babies by making them feel welcome to breastfeed in all public places and local establishments. District Health Department No. 10 WIC program offers information to businesses on how to make the workplace breastfeeding friendly. In addition, breastfeeding support groups take place monthly in each county served by the department to help pregnant women, as well as women who are currently nursing. These groups are free and open to the public.

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program that provides nutritious foods to qualified participants, as well as nutrition education and counseling, screening, and referrals to other health and social services. For more information and to locate the nearest WIC office, call 1-800-26-BIRTH (1-800-262-4784).

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