Mama’s Milk Connection will mark World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 7 in Carman Park

    August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and Polk County is doing just that, creating awareness that all babies should be breastfed.     

    With support from The Statewide Health Improvement Program or SHIP; and a grant from the local United Way; Polk County Public Health recently convened healthcare partners and community members to form the Polk County Breastfeeding Coalition (PCBC).     

    Representation includes individuals from Polk County Public Health, Norman-Mahnomen Public Health, RiverView Health, Essentia Health-Fosston, Altru Clinics, Tri-County Corrections, Tri-Valley Head Start, UND College of Nursing, and Polk County citizens.   The mission is to improve health through collaborative support, promotion and protection of breastfeeding as the cultural norm.      

    The PCBC meets every month, to create plans that will get them closer to their goal on making breastfeeding the norm in Polk County.   So far, they have surveyed medical providers on breastfeeding knowledge and comfort levels, surveyed mothers on breastfeeding barriers, and set up the rock and rest tent for families at a few locations.     

    Work will continue with inviting Polk County employers to participate in an important worksite initiative: establishing a worksite lactation support program.  Effective March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), to require employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk after the birth of her child.        

    The amendment also requires that employers provide a place for an employee to express breast milk, other than a bathroom. 

    The PCBC will assist employers in establishing lactation rooms, and aid them in developing a breastfeeding support program.     

    With more and more woman choosing to breastfeed their baby, with an initiation rate of over 78%, and with many mothers in the workforce, having employers assist in being a supportive environment, helps breastfeeding continue. 

    PCBC plan to identify businesses that support breastfeeding woman, with a door/window cling that displays the International Breastfeeding Logo, a woman holding an infant in blue and white colors.     

    With the display of this cling to employees and consumers, mothers will know breastfeeding is supported and protected at this place of business.  Breastfeeding Policies for worksites will also be encouraged, and assistance provided as well.    

    World Breastfeeding Week is a global celebration August 1st-7th, each year since 1992, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) remind women and families of the vital importance of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods thereafter. Following these recommendations can save the lives of about 2 million children around the world each year. Breastfeeding is well recognized by major medical organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association as well as others, as the preferred method of infant feeding throughout the early years of life.   

    Every citizen should encourage breastfeeding and support policies where they live, work and play to make breastfeeding the easy choice.  The risk of not breastfeeding affects every part of our society. Breastfeeding reduces infant mortality and morbidity more than any other intervention, which translates into healthier children who have a greater chance to grow up as healthier adults. Breastfeeding is the most cost-effective way to decrease disease and save healthcare dollars.   

    Here in Minnesota, the WIC program declared the theme for August’s Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Mom’s milk-made just for me.     

    This theme focuses what Moms are saying about breastfeeding.  Examples: “I’m giving only breastmilk because that’s what’s best for my little one.  It’s so much healthier, and it’s free!” 

    Or, “I’m glad I breastfed because it is an amazing bonding experience between me and my baby.  The way he looks into my eyes while nursing, the love you can feel …it’s indescribable.”     

    The theme also includes the family by encouraging feedback from Dads, Grandparents and others.  Family and societal support is very important for Moms to make breastfeeding work.  In Crookston, PCPH offer a breastfeeding support group called: Mama’s Milk Connection, with monthly meetings on the Third Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. at the Polk County WIC Lobby, 721 Minnesota St. S.  It is an opportunity for families to support each other through group discussion, provide helpful information, and socialization with those who share a common bond:  breastfeeding.    

    Mama’s Milk Connection will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, Thursday, August 7th, at 6:00 p.m., with a Potluck Dinner and games, at the Head Start playground and Carman Park, 1407 Erskine St., Crookston.  

    All who promote, protect and support breastfeeding are welcome to join the fun.     

    For more information about breastfeeding, the Polk County Breastfeeding Coalition, Mama’s Milk Connection, or Worksite Lactation Services, contact Tammy Conn IBCLC, Polk County Public Health at 281-3385.