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Public Health Column for the Times-News

Don't miss the festival that celebrates breastfeeding

Published: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

By KIM HORTON
Times-News Columnist

It’s always gratifying to hear how a Health Department program has helped a client achieve her goals.

I recently spoke with Katherine at a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program) promotion at a local grocery store. Not only does Katherine continue to benefit from WIC services, but she also participates in the Breastfeeding & Peer Counselor Program.

A mother of a two-year-old and a nine-month-old, Katherine was enthusiastic about what the WIC program offers participants: a supplemental food package, nutrition education and referrals to health care and other services.

“I love WIC! The kids love the food, and it helps my family, because the program offers healthy food options instead of junk,” she said. “And it’s very easy to get an appointment.”

She was just as complimentary about her experience with the breastfeeding program and the support from her breastfeeding peer counselor.

“Tammie Bogin is amazing. She really helped me with breastfeeding, and she encouraged me during the rough times to keep going,” Katherine said. “Tammie told me it would get better, and it did.”

A peer counselor, a friend or a support group can have a dramatic impact on a new mother interested in beginning to breastfeed and continuing to breastfeed because they provide what is needed most, a trusted friend who has been there.

How do you find that support? One way is to attend the World Breastfeeding Week Festival taking place from 10 a.m. to noon this Friday under the Pavilion at the Park at Flat Rock. More than 15 breastfeeding vendors and group representatives will be on hand to speak to participants about how to support a breastfeeding mom.

The festival takes place during World Breastfeeding Week, celebrated every year from Aug. 1-7, when thousands of women and their children across the world participate in activities to highlight the importance of supporting breastfeeding families.

The free event, sponsored by the Henderson County Breastfeeding Coalition, will include live music, food and drinks, giveaways and raffles for gift certificates to local restaurants, massages, gift baskets, event tickets and more. A breastfeeding area with rocking chairs will be available for moms to use. Spanish interpreters will be present.

The Henderson County Breastfeeding Coalition organized in Sept. 2016 to promote breastfeeding and provide support. Members include the Department of Public Health’s Clinic and WIC Services, Park Ridge Health, Child and Family Resource Center, Head Start, Western Carolina Community Action, La Leche League and Mountain Mamas.

The Department of Public Health is proud to be a member of the coalition. The department’s breastfeeding program that Katherine found so important to her success offers breastfeeding education and assistance by a board-certified Lactation Consultant, breastfeeding peer counselors, and WIC nutritionists who are certified breastfeeding educators. Other services include a breast pump loan program, a book loan program, breastfeeding classes and support groups.

According to Lori Bradley, nutritionist and program manager for the program, in Henderson County, 88.75 percent of new mothers initiate breastfeeding. But at six months, only 33.6 percent continue to breastfeed.

“Mothers need continuous breastfeeding support to successfully breastfeed for six to 12 months,” Bradley said. “The number at six months suggests that mothers, in part, may not be getting the support they need from healthcare providers, family members or employers.”

Studies have shown that breastfeeding not only boosts an infant’s immune system-meaning fewer trips to the doctor. It also lowers the mother’s risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, employers who offer accommodations for nursing mothers realize benefits from increased employee loyalty, reduced turnover and increased productivity.

“Ultimately, however, the true benefit comes when the breastfeeding mom looks into her baby’s face and sees a happy, healthy child smiling back,” said Bradley.

For information about the World Breastfeeding Week Festival, the Breastfeeding & Peer Counselor Program or Nutrition Services and WIC, call 828-692-4223 and press 5 or visit the Nutrition Services link at hendersoncountync.org/health. The Henderson County Breastfeeding Coalition invites anyone interested to join its Facebook group.

 


Kim Horton is the communications manager at the Henderson County Department of Public Health. She can be reached at khorton@hendersoncountync.org.

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Department of Public Health • 1200 Spartanburg Highway, Suite 100 • Hendersonville, NC 28792 • (828) 692-4223