August is National Breastfeeding Month in Ohio, and two local organizations are ramping up efforts to discuss the practice with mothers and to bring awareness about how it can help reduce infant death rates.
The Butler County Breastfeeding Coalition and Butler County WIC Program are hoping to bring more attention to the subject, not just this month, but year-round, according to Cindy Meale, director of the Butler County WIC program.
Children who are breastfed have a 20 percent lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and 1 year than children who weren’t breastfed, she said.
Meale was at a picnic sponsored by WIC and the Breastfeeding Coalition on Thursday at Rentschler Park, which was designed to help mothers find answers to questions about the issue.
“We are celebrating today with families that are on our programs — just coming together to celebrate breastfeeding with our moms who are nursing freely out here,” she said.
Leslie Flannery is the breastfeeding coordinator for WIC, and she added that breastfeeding is still considered taboo in public, so it’s important to reinforce to mothers that they are allowed to do it and should feel comfortable doing so.
“We just want to normalize breastfeeding and make these mothers feel more comfortable and that it is the right thing to do,” Flannery said. “We don’t want moms to feel ashamed to feed their baby in a park or at a restaurant. We would never want a mom to have to go to the bathroom to feed her baby or pump their breast milk. We just want them to feel comfortable.”
Educating black women who are pregnant about breastfeeding is important because black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies before the age of 1 in the county, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
Meale said a “Celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week,” which includes prenatal breastfeeding support, will be held later this month.
For more information about the breastfeeding support groups, contact WIC at 513-896-7022.