During the first week of August, communities around the globe will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with the goal of encouraging breast-feeding and improving the health of babies.
This year, the World Breastfeeding Week theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together, which highlights the work done through partnerships around the globe and here in Thurston County, to support breast-feeding families.
Clear scientific evidence from numerous studies shows breast-feeding has significant benefits for moms and babies. Breast-feeding lowers the mother’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Breast-fed babies are at lower risk for developing serious diseases such as asthma, diabetes, childhood leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome. They also are less likely to be obese.
In Washington, more than 90 percent of moms begin breast-feeding their babies at birth. But only about 35 percent are still breast-feeding at their child’s first birthday, the age that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.
Many women report that they quit breast-feeding before they really want to. They say a lack of support and many challenges, including returning to work or school, make continuing to breast-feed harder.
Support for these moms is crucial so they can meet their own breast-feeding goals. Fortunately, Thurston County offers several excellent resources for breast-feeding families.
▪ The South Sound Breastfeeding Network is a partnership of organizations and individuals focused on encouraging and promoting breast-feeding in South Sound. This group publishes the Breastfeeding Resource Guide. This guide is available online and outlines local resources, from lactation consultants to offices for the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children. It is available in English and Spanish at southsoundbreastfeeding.org.
▪ The weekly Drop-In Breastfeeding Group at the Family Support Center in Olympia is supported by a partnership of many local organizations. This group is free and meets from 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays. Membership or signing up isn’t required. A person experienced in helping breast-feeding families is always available to answer questions. This is a safe space for breast-feeding families to gather for support and discussion, and to share information. This group began as a partnership between SeaMar WIC, South Sound Breastfeeding Network and the Providence St. Peter Foundation, and now is sponsored by the Family Support Center.
▪ La Leche League International is another excellent resource for breast-feeding parents or parents-to-be. It offers support and advice with all aspects of breast-feeding. In Thurston County, they are available by phone or text at 360-975-4826, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have in-person meetings twice a month for breast-feeding families. Find out more at llli.org.
By supporting breast-feeding in our communities, we support the health of women, infants and families. This helps our communities thrive.
If you are interested in learning more about activities celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, check out the South Sound Breastfeeding Network Facebook Page. Learn more about World Breastfeeding Week at worldbreastfeedingweek.org
Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, email@example.com, or @ThurstonHealth on Twitter.