The South Sound Breastfeeding Network recently
launched the Breastfeeding Welcome Here campaign to support breast-feeding
in our community. This campaign uses the new International Breastfeeding
Symbol from Mothering Magazine.
The goal of this campaign is to support women
nursing their babies by making our community friendlier to breastfeeding
families. More than 80 percent of new moms in our community start
out breastfeeding Washington has the highest rate in the nation.
The symbol will alert breastfeeding moms of public
locations where they can nurse comfortably. It also will reinforce
that breastfeeding is normal, accepted and welcome. Most moms who
nurse in public do so discreetly but still might be concerned they
will be "discovered" and discouraged. These signs assure
moms they can safely and comfortably feed their babies.
Why is it important?
Babies need to eat. Moms and babies deserve clean
and comfortable places to feed. No one should have to eat their
lunch in a bathroom. By having more public places for moms and babies
to nurse, we improve the health of our whole community.
Opting not to nurse has been linked to increased
risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, childhood cancers, allergies,
asthma and ear infections, as well as a host of other viruses, bacteria
The financial cost of choosing not to breast-feed
is staggering. A 1999 government study estimated that a minimum
of $3.6 billion could be saved if breastfeeding rates were increased
from current levels to levels recommended by the U.S. surgeon general.
These recommendations are to have 75 percent of
babies' breastfeeding at birth and half still nursing at 6 months.
This estimation of the cost savings of breastfeeding likely is underestimated
because this study examined only three childhood illnesses.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued nursing for
a minimum of one year.
According to the AAP, the lack of public support
for breastfeeding is one of the obstacles to its success.
If our community embraces nursing as the normal
way to feed infants, more women will start out breastfeeding and
do it longer. This will decrease health care costs, which is good
for all of us.
If you are a store owner or have a business, consider
posting the International Breastfeeding Symbol in a prominent place,
such as the front door or at the check-out, and adopt policies that
are friendly to nursing moms and their babies. If you display the
International Breastfeeding Symbol, mothers are welcome to breastfeed
their children within your establishment. This means they will never
be harassed, treated poorly or asked to leave, cover up or move
as a result of breastfeeding
For more details on the guidelines and to get
a symbol, call Martha Alonzo at 360-786-5581, ext. 16661, e-mail
email@example.com, or go to the South Sound Breastfeeding
Network Web site at www.southsoundbreastfeeding.org.
Dr. Diana Yu is the health officer for the
Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department. For
information from the Health Department, call 360-786-5581.