Benefits of breastfeeding often overshadowed by lack of acceptance

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Many women who start breastfeeding their babies soon give it up because they lack support at home or in the workplace. When that happens, both mothers and babies miss out on important health benefits. Breastfed babies are healthier and have fewer infections and illnesses than formula fed babies. Women who breastfeed also experience significant health benefits, including lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, has a “Close to Mothers” theme that emphasizes the importance of family, friends and peers to successful breastfeeding. “Although the decision to breastfeed is a personal one, the key to breastfeeding success is support from family and community,” said Tricia Mortell, chronic disease prevention manager.

Policy changes are one of the most important ways to bolster this support. More mothers now get support for breastfeeding in the workplace because of federal regulations that require employers to provide reasonable break time and private places to express breast milk, excluding restrooms.

The Clark County Breastfeeding Coalition is sponsoring the following local events in observance of Breastfeeding Week:

• Education and lactation tent at Salmon Creek Farmers Market, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at 1315 N.E. 134th St.

The Big Latch On, an international contest to have the most moms nursing simultaneously, will be held on two days at the following locations. Participants need to register starting at 9:30.

• 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 at Santé Mama, 113 N.E. 92nd Ave.

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Vancouver Farmers Market; big latch and education and lactation tent at Esther Short Park, West Sixth and Esther streets.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive their mothers’ milk exclusively for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for at least a year or more.

Information and resources for expectant and breastfeeding mothers are available on the Web and at the Clark County Breastfeeding Coalition Facebook page. The coalition also has a resource guide that provides information about local breastfeeding support services.