The Isanti County Public Health (ICPH) WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program is celebrating Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August and World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7.
Community members, employers and health professionals can do a lot to support women and families and help mom and baby get this healthy start.
Local mom Sakira says she was frustrated and ready to quit breastfeeding within the first couple days after her oldest child was born. Her mom said to ask WIC for help.
“They encouraged me to keep going,” Sakira said. “They told me I was doing a really good job and how healthy breastmilk was for my baby.”
That encouragement helped Sakira keep going, and now she is breastfeeding her third child, one-year-old Elijah.
Breastmilk continues to be an important part of his diet even though he eats a wide variety of foods and is learning to drink from a cup.
Another local mom, Sarah, had a traumatic delivery experience with her son, Albert, followed by several breastfeeding challenges.
“I had no knowledge or experience with breastfeeding,” she said.
Sarah felt very discouraged and insecure. Sarah came to the Isanti County WIC Office and met with a lactation educator.
“Barb helped me understand what to look for, what to listen for and how to get a good latch,” Sarah said. “She helped me understand how to use my breast pump to increase my supply. She taught me to trust my maternal instincts and to trust my baby. Breastfeeding became more of a natural thing.”
Sarah’s first goal was to breastfeed for six months, which she went well beyond.
Special week raises awareness
World Breastfeeding Week helps raise awareness of the importance of support in empowering a mother to successfully breastfeed and reach her goals. Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in saving lives and improving health. Support from family, employers, childcare, public health and health providers all play critical roles in assisting a mother to breastfeed.
Last year, ICPH displayed a tree, and breastfeeding mothers wrote on leaves the names of those who supported them in their breastfeeding journey – 80% of their support came from family, friends and significant others.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is the standard for infant feeding. It provides essential nutrients and antibodies that boost an infant’s immune system, which protects against childhood illnesses. Babies who are not breastfed are more likely to develop common childhood illnesses, like ear infections and diarrhea, as well as chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma and childhood obesity.
Breastfeeding mothers also have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In Isanti County, eight out of 10 WIC moms initiated breastfeeding, but only four out of 10 infants were still breastfeeding at three months, according to 2018 WIC data. WIC works to help women get a strong start with exclusive breastfeeding.
Challenges women face to meet their breastfeeding goals include those they experience in healthcare settings, worksites and child care centers.
That’s changing in Minnesota – there are a growing number of healthcare, child care, employers and health departments working to address these barriers and make breastfeeding easier for new mothers.
Isanti County Public Health supports breastfeeding by promoting breastfeeding to clients, providing lactation counselors and providing a breastfeeding room for staff and visitors.
Isanti County WIC and the East Central Breastfeeding Coalition have resources available including a lactation privacy tent that can be reserved for community events.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recognizes those who take steps to provide accommodations and support for women who would like to breastfeed or continue to breastfeed after returning to work or school.
Isanti County currently has two breastfeeding-friendly designated worksites: Isanti County and Rosewood Senior Living. Visit the MDH Breastfeeding Friendly Recognition Program website for more details (https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/breastfeeding/recognition/index.html).
For more information, contact Yvonne Sievert, WIC Coordinator, 763-689-4212 or visit https://www.co.isanti.mn.us/323/Public-Health.