To recognize World Breastfeeding Week on Aug. 1 through 7, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County has planned an event to increase support for breastfeeding families and help them celebrate.
Cary Allen, breastfeeding peer counselor at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department said, “The breastfeeding journey is different for every mother and every baby. We want families to know there are community resources in place to support their unique breastfeeding journeys.”
Some of the resources in Lawrence include support groups such as the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breastfeeding and New Parent Support Group, which meets every Monday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at LMH. Another group, Breast is Best Social, meets every fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Another group, La Leche League of Lawrence, meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at LMH. These groups offer mothers the chance to ask questions about breastfeeding as well as socialize with other families.
Valerie LaMont, a participant in the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Breastfeeding and New Parent Support Group, said, “I appreciate these groups so much. I have been able to get advice and tips on breastfeeding, interact with other moms and their babies and receive information about other parenting resources or events.”
One of those events is World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for 2016 is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development.” The theme is meant to get people to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share.
To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County and additional partners are hosting a free event at the Lawrence Public Library on August 6 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will offer activities and education for parents and children.
Children’s activities will include Story Time, Sing and Sign, and activities from Lawrence Parks and Recreation. Adult activities will include demonstrations of baby wearing, a slide show highlighting the unique experience of breastfeeding, and information on local facilities and organizations that support breastfeeding.
In preparation for the event, the coalition is offering families the opportunity to share their breastfeeding journeys. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/2YP8PS5 to share your story.
In addition, the coalition will be sponsoring the “Big Latch On,” a global event where women gather together to breastfeed and offer peer support to each other. The Big Latch On will be taking place simultaneously at registered locations all around the world. Mothers who are breastfeeding or pumping/expressing milk who wish to participate in the Big Latch On and be counted in the official numbers for the Douglas County event can register at the library at 10 a.m. The official count for the global event will be from 10:30 to 10:45 a.m. Last year, 15,336 women participated from 654 locations in 28 countries.
Betty Moles, a registered nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and an international board certified lactation consultant, said, “We wanted to provide a variety of activities for families and give mothers a chance to tell their breastfeeding stories. Every story is different, but they all start with the same goal — giving their babies what they need to grow.”
On average, 95 percent of new moms who deliver at LMH successfully initiate breastfeeding, compared to a statewide average of 77 percent and a national average of 79 percent.
Melissa Hoffman, a registered nurse and Community Education Specialist at LMH, said, “One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant is to breastfeed.” She noted that the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. In Kansas, only 11 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed after six months.
LMH was the first hospital in the state to qualify for the “High 5 for Mom & Baby” recognition, based on five key hospital practices crucial for a successful breastfeeding experience. LMH also offers donor breast milk for supplementation as an option and has six lactation consultants on staff.
The LMH Infant Nutrition Center offers free breastfeeding support for parents who have delivered at LMH, up to two weeks after a baby’s birth. Parents who have not delivered at LMH are encouraged to take advantage of these services for a small fee.
The Perfect Fit store at LMH offers breastfeeding supplies and specialized pregnancy support aids including nursing bras, nursing covers, support belts and more. Additionally, the store offers infant weight checks by appointment. For more information about the Infant Nutrition Center or the Perfect Fit, call 785-505-2738.
For more information about the Douglas County World Breastfeeding Week event and for additional resources, visit breastfeedingcoalitiondgco.wordpress.com.
— Allison Koonce is a Community Education Specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor of WellCommons.