From the McHenry County Health Department:
Communities encouraged to support breastfeeding children, families
McHENRY COUNTY — August is National Breastfeeding Month, and the McHenry County Department of Health wants to encourage communities to provide support to nursing children and their families.
A nursing parent’s early experience with breastfeeding can affect whether and how long they continue to breastfeed. Encouragement at every level can help reduce barriers. The community can participate in reducing these barriers in a number of ways, including normalizing breastfeeding through discussions about its natural benefits and by ensuring their businesses have policies in place for breastfeeding parents returning to work. More information about these topics is available at bit.ly/MCDHNBM.
Supporting breastfeeding also ensures current and future generations receive the benefits they need that can only be passed from mother to baby through breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and supports continued breastfeeding, with the addition of appropriate solid foods at 6 months of age, for 2 years and beyond. Proper nutrition for infants is critical for their growth and development, and it is important for communities to work together to provide consistent support for breastfeeding mothers in McHenry County.
Breastfeeding benefits the baby and nursing parent as it reduces the risk of disease for child and mother. For children, breastfeeding decreases the rates of lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, severe diarrhea, obesity and more. It can also reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by up to 64% and overall infant death risks by as much as 40%, according to healthychildren.org. As for the nursing parent, breastfeeding provides protection against diabetes, high blood pressure and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
“We are inviting people to be champions in support of breastfeeding families,” said MCDH’S Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Coordinator Nancy Chrest. “We’re also inviting nursing parents – past, present and future – to join the discussion on social media to share their breastfeeding journey so we as a community can have a larger discussion about how to support nursing families.”
MCDH’s WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program continues to provide assistance to nursing families through one-on-one breastfeeding support, education and encouragement to pregnant and breastfeeding participants. WIC provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support and free healthy foods to eligible families. More information about both programs is available at bit.ly/MCDHWIC.