The Oklahoma State Department of Health is promoting World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7, with the theme Supporting Breastfeeding – Together. This year’s theme focuses on the importance of working together for the common good. In order to meet breastfeeding duration goals, it is important for mothers to receive support from their community, health care providers, child-care providers and employers, as well as their friends and family.
Based on the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System data from 2014, 85 percent of Oklahoma mothers began breastfeeding their babies after birth. While most new mothers start out breastfeeding, many do not exclusively breastfeed for six months or continue for up to two years of age as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund.
Data provided in The Oklahoma Toddler Survey from 2012 to 2015 indicates that although the numbers are gradually improving, only 36 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at six months and 19 percent of mothers were breastfeeding at 12 months or more.
There are many ways to support breastfeeding. As an employer, breastfeeding can be supported by providing flexible break times and a private place for employees to express breast milk during the workday. Child care providers can be supportive by properly storing and serving expressed breast milk. Healthcare providers can support breastfeeding by sharing accurate information and referrals to lactation professionals.
Local health department clinics will be providing various activities to recognize and encourage breastfeeding mothers and also to teach expectant women, family members and the community about the importance of breastfeeding, and how this practice can lead to a healthier tomorrow.
For more information about breastfeeding, becoming a Recognized Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite, or to find a lactation consultant in your area, visit the OSDH breastfeeding website http://bis.health.ok.gov, the Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates (COBA) website www.okbreastfeeding.org or call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK (6455).