Lawrence receives breastfeeding support designation

Lawrence has received the Community Supporting Breastfeeding designation from the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition. It’s the first community in Kansas to received the title.

The designation recognizes communities that provide breastfeeding support across sectors including businesses, employers, hospitals, child care providers and peer support. The coalition will celebrate the designation at the Lawrence Public Library on Aug. 1.

The Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County, which formed during the past year, applied for the designation. Agencies involved in the coalition are the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, La Leche League of Lawrence, Lawrence OB-GYN Specialists, Lawrence Pediatrics, Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and Pregnancy Care Center.

“Forming a coalition allows different organizations to work together and pool their resources to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and to support moms who choose to breastfeed,” said Traci Hoopingarner, director of the Family Birthing Center and Pediatrics at LMH, in a press release from the Health Department.

Hoopingarner said that Lawrence Memorial Hospital supports new mothers at delivery with breastfeeding encouragement and assistance within one hour of a baby’s birth.

“Our lactation staff then supports the new mom and baby while they are in the hospital,” Hoopingarner said. “When the mother goes home, she needs resources to continue supporting her choice to breastfeed whether she is at home, work, or in a public place.”

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond. However, in Kansas, although most mothers hope to breastfeed, and 77 percent of babies start out being breastfed, only 11 percent are exclusively breastfed 6 months later.

Cary Allen, a breastfeeding peer counselor at the Health Department, said the success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be improved through support from their families, friends, communities, employers and policymakers. “This designation is exciting because it is an indication that we are building a culture of breastfeeding support in Lawrence.”

To receive the designation, Lawrence met the following criteria:

  • Have a local breastfeeding coalition.
  • One or more community hospitals participating in the High 5 for Mom & Baby program. Lawrence Memorial Hospital participates in the program.
  • At least 20 child-care providers complete the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition’s “How to Support the Breastfeeding Mother and Family” course. As of June 1, 64 Douglas County providers had completed the course.
  • At least 10 businesses receive a Breastfeeding Employee Support Award.
  • At least 25 businesses participate in the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” program.
  • Offer peer breastfeeding support groups.

For expectant and breastfeeding mothers in Douglas County, here are local support groups and meeting times and locations:

  • Breast Is Best Social: 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Health Department, 200 Maine St.
  • LMH Support Group: 10 a.m. Mondays in the Auditorium at the hospital, Fourth and Arkansas streets
  • La Leche League Lawrence: 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and 10 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month at 1834 Learned Ave.