LISBON - A group proactive about breastfeeding is encouraging mothers to nurse their babies longer and for local hospitals to adopt more of the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding.
Kelly Rambo, breastfeeding coordinator for the Women, Infants and Children Program in Columbiana County, explained those two goals will be the focus of their celebration of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, which kicked off Sunday.
Today from 11 a.m. to noon, WIC will host pregnant and breastfeeding mothers during an open house at their office in Lisbon with muffins, fruit, tea and lessons about local resources and breastfeeding. Representatives of the Help Me Grow program, La Leche League, Head Start and county Health Department child safety seat program will attend.
"We want to provide some information," Rambo said.
On Aug. 20, WIC will host a meeting at the Taste of Country Restaurant in Lisbon for representatives of Salem Community Hospital, East Liverpool City Hospital, Help Me Grow and the La Leche League in an effort to improve breastfeeding support and education in the area.
A certified lactation counselor and nutrition associate, Rambo said they want to help serve mothers the best way they can. She noted the benefits of breastfeeding for children include a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and cancer, a reduced risk of allergies and an increased possibility of better brain development.
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
- written breastfeeding policy in place
- health care staff trained to implement policy
- pregnant mothers informed about benefits and management of breastfeeding
- mothers helped to initiate breastfeeding within half hour of baby's birth
- mothers shown how to breastfeed and maintain lactation even if separated from baby
- newborn babies given no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated
- babies stay in same room as mother
- breastfeeding on demand encouraged
- no pacifiers given to breastfeeding babies
- mothers referred to breastfeeding support groups upon release from hospital
(Source: World Health Organization)
"Our problem in this county is keeping our moms nursing longer," she said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives, she said. The breastfeeding should continue for up to a year, with food introduced after the first six months.
A 2009 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance showed that the number of breastfed babies in Columbiana County dropped significantly after six months. The percentage of babies ever breastfed was 53.8 percent, but the percentage of babies breastfed at least six months was 15.9 percent, then fell to 9.2 percent for the percentage of babies breastfed 12 months.
According to the Center for Public Health Statistics, 2009 Ohio birth indicators by hospital showed 670 births at Salem Community Hospital and 56.4 percent of those babies breastfed at discharge. For East Liverpool City Hospital, the number was 225 births with 34.8 percent breastfed at discharge.
The theme for Breastfeeding Awareness Month this year is "Breastfeeding - Just 10 Steps! The Baby-Friendly Way."
There are currently just three hospitals in Ohio that are certified Baby-Friendly Hospitals, but Rambo said some other hospitals are going through the certification process, which she described as strict. The protocol to reach certification has a number of requirements along with adopting all 10 steps to successful breastfeeding.
The three hospitals with the designation include Mercy Hospital Anderson in Cincinnati, Mercy Hospital Fairfield in Fairfield and Southview Hospital in Dayton.
In a press release, Salem Community Hospital and East Liverpool City Hospital were both thanked for their support to breastfeeding moms and WIC participants.
The most important of the five steps to adopt, if all 10 can't be attained, include: breastfeeding infants in the first hour after birth, keeping infants in the same room as mom, feeding only breast milk with no supplements, not using pacifiers and providing moms with a telephone number to call for help with breastfeeding.
Ohio Department of Health Director Alvin Jackson, M.D. said in a press release that if only one step can be instituted, it should be skin-to-skin holding by the mother for up to an hour after birth as a means to increase bonding and create a natural setting for baby-led breastfeeding.
"Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported," WIC Director Nancy Dailey said in the press release.
For more information about breastfeeding, call the WIC office at 330-424-7293.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org