National Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, focuses attention on need for supportive families, friends and employers

World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7, so the state Department for Public Health is pointing out the importance of providing support for breastfeeding families. “We encourage mothers to breastfeed to ensure that infants are getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Audrey Haynes. “Even the most committed mothers can struggle to successfully breastfeed when they don’t have the kind of support system they need at home, at the workplace and in the community. If we want to send the message that breastfeeding is important and improve our breastfeeding rates, we need to support mothers who choose to breastfeed.”

The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and continue to be breastfed, along with other food sources, for at least a year. The cabinet and the department want fathers, other family members, friends, employers and others to know that, and the importance of support for breatfeeding mothers, especially in the workplace. “Continuing breastfeeding after returning to work is a tremendous challenge,” said Fran Hawkins, director of the state’s Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. Public health officials stress that continuing breastfeeding after returning to work is often necessary to meet the recommendations for optimal infant nutrition.

The state says four steps help make workplaces more conducive to breastfeeding: support from managers and coworkers; flexible time to express milk (10 to 15 minutes three times per day); education for employees about how to combine breastfeeding and work; and a designated space to breastfeed or express milk in privacy. Kentucky law protects women who wish to breastfeed their babies in public. This law permits a mother to breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any public or private location. This law also requires that breastfeeding not be considered an act of public indecency or indecent exposure. For more information, contact Marlene Goodlett at (502) 564-3827 ext. 3612 or marlene.goodlett@ky.gov. Information on breastfeeding can be found here.

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