Local groups to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in August

World Breastfeeding Week starts next Tuesday, and partners in the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County have planned a celebration on Aug. 5 at the Lawrence Public Library. The event is free and filled with family-friendly activities.

The 2017 celebration — the 25th annual worldwide — is focusing on “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.”

In keeping with that theme, the local coalition and its partners are working with area health care providers and businesses to educate them about how to become breastfeeding-friendly practices and businesses. Many area organizations already have achieved these designations, including Douglas County District Court.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is a major sponsor of WellCommons.

“The court is very conscious of the many responsibilities every person, including jurors, attorneys and staff, must balance in their daily lives,” said Linda Koester-Vogelsang, district court administrator. “The court appreciates the opportunity to provide a comfortable and well-equipped breastfeeding room for mothers who need a quiet, restful place to pump milk for their child when they may need to be at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.”

Partners within the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County promote the benefits of breastfeeding and educate women based on World Health Organization recommendations, which are exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Local activities

To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County and its partners are hosting their second annual family-friendly event. Here are details:

• The free event is 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 5 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.

• Children’s activities will include storytime, baby sing and sign, a photo booth and activities planned by Lawrence Parks and Recreation.

• Adult activities will include a baby-wearing demonstration, a slide show highlighting Lawrence mothers’ breastfeeding experiences, a photo booth and a crowd favorite, Lawrence Latch On, which is a synchronized breastfeeding event. Last year, 28 mothers and children participated in Lawrence Latch On.

Adequate breastfeeding counseling and support are essential for mothers and families to initiate and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices. Beth Porter-Sakumura, a registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, knows firsthand the many benefits of support.

“Support for breastfeeding starts as soon as a family decides to have a baby,” she said. “Both parents contribute to breastfeeding success, so both parents should be well-educated and committed to the process. A breastfeeding mother needs the support of her family, friends, physician, pediatrician, work place and community. Care in a birth facility that emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding increases exclusive breastfeeding rates by helping families become confident in their ability to succeed.”

In order to provide breastfeeding assistance to Lawrence families, many organizations offer access to free resources for breastfeeding support.

Alana Kramer, a mother of twins who participates in the LMH Breastfeeding and New Parent Support Group, said she has benefited from these groups.

“I originally came to the LMH group because, as a new mother and a mother of twins who spent time in the NICU, I came across some unique breastfeeding challenges,” she said. “Thankfully, I received the support and reassurance I needed at the time. It also gave me a great network of people I could relate to in this whole new experience called ‘parenting.'”

The Breastfeeding and New Parent Support Group is free and meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. LMH also offers free support through the Infant Nutrition Center for parents who have delivered at LMH, up to two weeks after a baby’s birth. Other support groups, which include evening hours, are the Breast is Best Social, which meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and the La Leche League of Lawrence, which meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

For more information about the Breastfeeding Coalition of Douglas County’s World Breastfeeding Week event or for additional resources, visit tinyurl.com/ybrm5kqg.

— Allison Koonce is community education specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at allison.koonce@lmh.og.