Six months of breastfeeding gives babies extra immunity against diabetes and other chronic diseases, studies show. Breastfed babies are also less likely to become obese kids. Mothers who breastfeed get immunities and lose their pregnancy weight more easily.
In Huntington, moms have banded together to form Wild Wonderful Breastfeeding. They make house calls, take phone calls and answer texts from new mothers. They respond to late night, holiday or weekend calls.
Women in Huntington, Greenbrier Valley and Central West Virginia have all put together support groups in their areas. The West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance has put together a manual, How to form a support group, to help women in other areas.
* The WIC program, serving about 50,000 people a month, encourages breastfeeding, offers classes and support and gives breastfeeding mothers extra food coupons for theur families. See WIC statistics.
* The West Virginia counties with the lowest breastfeeding rates also have the highest obesity and chronic disease rates and the lowest income. See chart: WV’s breastfeeding rate is lowest in areas where chronic disease is highest.
* To give babies the full immunity benefit, mothers should breastfeed without any solids offered before 6 months. Moms can continue to breastfeed even after baby begins receiving solid foods, nutritional experts say.
Make it easier for moms in your community to breastfeed:
- Check your local hospital practices.
- Does your local hospital(s) give new mothers bags of formula when they leave the hospital? If they do, find ways to point out that it discourages breastfeeding, which is proven to increase the child’s immunities to many diseases. Ask them to stop.
- Does your hospital employ lactation counselors or make them available? Many hospitals now have at least one nurse trained to help new mothers who want to nurse.
Form a local support group. It can be sponsored by an organization or church or be a group of moms. The WV Breastfeeding Association’s “How to form a support group” manual will be helpful.
- The West Virginia Breasttfeeding Alliance: www.wvbfa.com or https://www.facebook.com/wvbfa.
- The manual, Local coalition-building kit, can be found at: http://www.wvbfa.com/wvba%20local%20coalitions%20kit%20(2).pdf
- Contact/visit a West Virginia local group for help:
- Wild Wonderful Breastfeeding in Huntington. https://www.facebook.com/BreastfeedingInHuntington
- Greenbrier Valley Breastfeeding Coalition: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greenbrier-Valley-Breastfeeding-Coalition/288074621211329
- North Central WV Breastfeeding Coalition. https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Central-WV-Breastfeeding-Coalition/216851538342977
- Kanawha Lactation Association is not a support group per se, but you can get advice from other moms by posting on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/86575123815
- Know the research on the positive impact of breastfeeding on the child’s health. Read about it here.
- Encourage breastfeeding areas in stores and public buildings. Ask stores and agencies to display baby-friendly decals that say they have an area where moms can comfortably breastfeed. It’s hard for many moms to breastfeed if they can’t bring their babies with them when they go out. Put this with picture of decal in window.
- Check with your local WIC (Women Infants and Children) program. Are they strongly encouraging breastfeeding? Do they offer classes? Give counseling and practical support in the first year? Offer moms a comfortable place to breastfeed? Posters? Breastfeeding WIC mothers get extra help with family food . http://ons.wvdhhr.org and http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/Breastfeeding/mainpage.HTM
- Right from the Start home visitors are trained to help with breastfeeding if the mom wants it. The program also offers many other services to low-income moms. http://www.wvdhhr.org/rfts
- Put up posters that let parents know that breastfeeding gives their child extra immunities against many diseases. Here is a free poster to print and distribute. http://trythiswv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/A-free-breastfeedingposter-courtesy-of-the-Charleston-Gazette.pdf
Here are other useful online resources:
- West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance. Click on “News/Resources.” This organization lobbies for change and provides support materials/information. www.wvbfa.com
- The La Leche League: https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Leche-League-in-Virginia-and-West-Virginia/117638244985443
- West Virginia Perinatal Partners: a coalition of professionals who work to improve state policy. Breastfeeding is one of their issues. http://www.wvperinatal.org
- For practical information and advice on day-to-day breastfeeding:
- Make it possible for women to work while breastfeeding. For information about a mother’s right to take job breaks to pump breast milk: http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers
- United States Breastfeeding Committee: issues at national level: http://www.usbreastfeeding.org
- National WIC site: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/Breastfeeding/mainpage.HTM
- Read stories about breastfeeding in West Virginia:
- Breastfeeding lowers babies’ risk / WV hospitals and formula bags: http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201209220075
- One family at a time: following a breastfeeding coach http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201209220068
- The success of the Summersville WIC program: what are they doing? http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201209230163
- Six breastfeeding moms tell their stories http://www.wvgazette.com/News/theshapewerein/201209280108