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Support breastfeeding: it’s everyone’s responsibility

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Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, only 74.6 percent of Oklahoma mothers breastfeed immediately after giving birth, and only 34.9 percent of babies are still breastfeeding at 6 months old, according to the most recent data available from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). 

“The success rate among mothers who choose to breastfeed can be significantly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders, and employers,” said Terry Bryce, chief, OSDH Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Service. “Breastfeeding is so important for mothers and babies that major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Family Physicians recommend that babies receive nothing but breastmilk during the first six months of life, and continue receiving breastmilk for at least the first year and beyond.”

Bryce noted that employed women are less likely to initiate breastfeeding and they tend to breastfeed for a shorter length of time than women who are not employed. “Most employed mothers who are breastfeeding have to pump milk at work for their infants and need to be provided with accommodations to do so,” he said.

Bryce said Oklahoma has a program in place to recognize worksites that meet the following criteria to become breastfeeding friendly:

·         Allow flexible break times and a private location for nursing mothers to express milk.

·         Have access to a nearby water source for washing hands and breast pump equipment.

·         Have a written breastfeeding policy.

For more information about becoming a Recognized Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite and a list of current recognized sites, visit the OSDH breastfeeding website http://bis.health.ok.gov.

The Logan County Health Department will host a reception in celebration of “World Breastfeeding Week” on Wednesday, August 8, at 1:30 p.m.  For more information or to RSVP, please call 282-3485.  For breastfeeding support and information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK.

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