The East Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition (ETBC) hosted its third annual World Breastfeeding Week kick-off event at New Harvest Park recently. Breastfeeding mothers, moms-to-be and families attended the free event.
“This year’s theme, Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, highlights the importance of breastfeeding peer counseling and community support systems,” said Sherri Hedberg, chair of ETBC. “Whether it’s trained health care workers, lactation consultants, community leaders, employers or friends, a broad base of community support is crucial in stopping the decline in breastfeeding rates, which typically happen in the first few weeks or months after delivery.”
In addition to informational booths, activities at the Aug. 2 event included:
- The Big Latch On – An opportunity for local moms to participate in the international Big Latch On, where moms from around the globe attempt to break the world record of the most mothers breastfeeding simultaneously. More than 65 moms participated this year.
- Marcie Singleton Award Announcement - Marcie Singleton was the Nutrition Director and Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Knox County Health Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. She was a tireless advocate for mothers’ right to breastfeed. Her work included consultation with businesses to build lactation programs. Each year, the award is given to a business or individual who goes above and beyond to promote and/or be supportive of breastfeeding. This year’s recipient was Kristin Williams, lactation consultant for Lisa Ross Birth & Women’s Center.
- Breastfeeding Welcomed Here Pledge – Participants had the opportunity to learn more about the pledge as well as the businesses that have signed on. By signing the Breastfeeding Welcomed Here pledge, businesses agree to provide a welcoming environment for breastfeeding moms, educate staff about Tennessee breastfeeding law and display a window graphic that alerts moms to public locations where they may breastfeed comfortably.
The event was sponsored by the East Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition, Knox County Health Department, Knox County WIC Program, Lisa Ross Birth & Women’s Center, The Breastfeeding Center at Lisa Ross and The University of Tennessee Medical Center.
The goals of World Breastfeeding Week are to encourage breastfeeding, raise public awareness of its benefits and improve the health of babies around the world. Celebrated in more than 120 countries, World Breastfeeding Week was developed to commemorate the Innocenti Declaration made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF policy-makers in 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Research shows that breastfeeding benefits baby and mother as well as society. Medical care costs are lower for fully breastfed infants than those infants who were never breastfed. Breastfed babies have a reduced risk for asthma, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. Employers benefit because parents of breastfed babies miss less work caring for a sick child. Furthermore, employers save on medical costs of dependents on the company health care plan. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, societal benefits of breastfeeding include the prevention of 900 infant deaths annually and the savings of approximately $13 billion per year nationally.More information about the East Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition is available on their Facebook page