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County WIC program celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

A breastfeeding tent will be available to families at this year’s Washington County Fair, Aug.1-5. Submitted photo

By Washington County WIC

The Washington County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program is celebrating Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August and World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7. This year's theme focuses on "Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life."

The week helps raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers and calls attention to local efforts that support breast-feeding.

"Breastfeeding helps children get off to a healthy start," said Samantha O'Dell, WIC Breastfeeding coordinator. "It's the foundation of life."

More than 81 percent of WIC moms begin breastfeeding, but at six months, only 35 percent continue breastfeeding. Infants who receive formula in the hospital after birth are more likely to stop breast-feeding by three months (49 percent) than those who receive only breastmilk (26 percent). Challenges women face to meet their breastfeeding goals include those they experience in health care settings, worksites, and child care centers.

That's changing in Minnesota. Thanks to the efforts by leadership within many organizations, WIC and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), growing numbers of health care, child care, employers, and health departments are working to address the barriers and make breastfeeding easier for new mothers.

This year, Washington County WIC will show support to breastfeeding families by providing displays in each clinic, handing out small gifts to breastfeeding families, and continuing to provide support and encouragement. Washington County has had an active Breastfeeding Coalition for many years. The Washington County Breastfeeding Coalition has worked with SHIP to provide a breastfeeding tent that will be available to families who attend this year's Washington County Fair, Aug.1-5. The tent will provide a private place for mothers to breastfeed their babies or pump breast milk while at the fair. The tent will also be available for use for other festivals and events in the Washington County area.

By making breastfeeding easier, mothers can reach their goals and give their babies the best possible start in life. For more information on breastfeeding or the WIC program, contact the Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment at 651-430-6655, PHE@co.washington.mn.us or www.livinghealthywc.org/Breastfeeding.html.