LEXINGTON, Ky. (4/25/13)—The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is educating parents on the health benefits of breastfeeding and helping them find ways to incorporate the practice into their busy lives.
“Our job is to help women strategize ways to make breastfeeding work and let them know how their bodies work,” said Doraine Bailey, the Lexington Health Department breastfeeding support coordinator.
The local health department’s efforts are part of the national “It’s Only Natural” campaign sponsored the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. The campaign is aimed at African American women, a population that has significantly lower rates of breastfeeding, but it is beneficial for all parents. New parents can visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/itsonlynatural/ for information on breastfeeding myths, overcoming obstacles to breastfeeding, and how to find support.
The national campaign provides resources for local health departments to hold classes, support groups, and informational sessions to encourage breastfeeding.
Bailey plans to bring together groups, such as churches, that are already serving target populations as well as the moms themselves to determine the best way to support, educate, and encourage parents that are deciding how to nourish their newborns.
“It isn’t about just convincing women to breastfeed,” said Bailey. “They know it is good for babies, but moms don’t always know how it is going to work for them. Not every working mom has an office with a door where she can go pump in the middle of the day. They just don’t know how to make it happen.”
Although it is “Only Natural,” breastfeeding is a skill that must be learned and takes practice and patience to master, according to the campaign’s website. First-time mothers may be especially apt to give up when they experience discomfort, have difficulty producing milk, or if the baby does not latch on easily.
Breastfeeding has a myriad of benefits for both mother and baby. Breast milk contains cells, hormones, and antibodies that protect babies from illness and cannot be replicated in formula. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of lower respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes. It is also linked to lower risk of certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression in mothers. The fat, sugar, water, and protein in breast milk adjusts to meet a baby’s needs as he or she grows.
Bailey plans to hold campaign events in August to correspond with World Breast Feeding Month.
“We don’t necessarily come from a community where we see people breastfeeding,” said Bailey. “It is cliché to say that it takes a village, but it does take a village.”
Information Doraine Bailey, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health
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