EL CENTRO – World Breastfeeding Week will be celebrated worldwide August 1-7 2013. The 2013 World Breastfeeding Week theme, Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, highlights the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families. Locally, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation showing their support for breastfeeding families by declaring August 1-7, 2013 “World Breastfeeding Week in Imperial County”.
Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions that new families make. Evidence is clear that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed an infant. Research shows that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses. Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Despite most mothers wanting to breastfeed, many are met with multiple and complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement from all angles can make success possible for mothers who wish to breastfeed. Negative attitudes and practices of the mother’s closest support network can pose a sizable barrier, making it difficult for mothers and babies to successfully breastfeed. “Learning how to breastfeed takes time and patience for new mothers and infants. It is important to remember families, friends, healthcare providers, employers, childcare providers, communities, and even the media play a crucial role in mother’s overall success with breastfeeding,” said Elizabeth Brooks, President of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA).
Appropriate breastfeeding support can build a mother’s confidence with breastfeeding. “It is critical that breastfeeding families be supported by their community. This support can be expressed by healthcare providers adopting policies and practices that assume breastfeeding as the normal feeding method for infants, by employers providing a private place and flexible work options to express breast milk during the workday, or by childcare providers talking to new families about how they support breastfeeding,” said Brooks. Breastfeeding peer counselors, mother-to-mother support groups, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certificates work in communities and can provide a wealth of knowledge to breastfeeding families.
The Imperial County Breastfeeding Coalition (ICBFC), with funding from Imperial County Children & Families First Commission, has organized several events to demonstrate community support of breastfeeding. All week long, local pharmacies will be presented the excellent reference book “Medications and Mother’s Milk” and local libraries will be receiving both “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and “We Like to Nurse, Too” to add to their collections. On Saturday August 3rd, ICBFC is coordinating a Breastfeeding Promotion Walk and Resource Fair at the Imperial Valley Mall, and a large finale celebration on Wednesday August 7th at the El Centro Community Center and Splash Pad. A Breastfeeding Photo Contest is also being held, with the pictures on display at each community event and cash prizes awarded to the winners at the celebration event on August 7th.
In the Imperial Valley, the Imperial County Breastfeeding Coalition is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of infants and families through education, outreach, and advocacy to promote and support breastfeeding. To learn more about World Breastfeeding Week activities planned in the Imperial Valley, please contact the Coalition by calling 760-550-9020, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting our web page at www.icbfc.org