A week to celebrate
To the Editor:
With the world in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s a good time to recognize the important role breastfeeding plays in protecting babies from germs all across the planet.
Faribault and Martin County WIC program is celebrating Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month throughout August. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week of Aug. 1-7, is “Support breastfeeding for healthier families, healthier communities, healthier planet.” The theme for Black Breastfeeding Week of Aug. 25-31, is “Revive, Restore, Reclaim.”
As the world’s leading scientists race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, humans have their own, natural way of protecting the next generation. Moms, through breast milk, pass on helpful antibodies that fight germs.
Though it is too early to know for sure, researchers are finding evidence that moms who previously had COVID-19 may pass on helpful antibodies that can fight the virus.
Parents may worry about the safety of breastfeeding during the pandemic. However, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding. The benefits simply outweigh the potential risk of spreading the virus to the baby. In addition, researchers have not found the infectious virus in breast milk. Even when a mother has COVID-19, she is advised to still breastfeed while doing hand hygiene and wearing a mask when with baby.
This year’s worldwide breastfeeding week also emphasizes how “green” and climate friendly breastfeeding is. Human milk is a natural, renewable food produced and delivered to babies without pollution, packaging or waste.
Finally, promoting and removing barriers to breastfeeding for people of color is one way to address structural racism in Minnesota. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected blacks, people of color and American Indians in Minnesota because of underlying social, economic and health disparities. These same underlying factors have made it more difficult over the years for Minnesotans of color to breastfeed.
Supporting breastfeeding through culturally appropriate care increases initiation and duration rates across all racial and cultural groups. Faribault and Martin County WIC supports breastfeeding at this time through one-on-one support with certified lactation consultants, group support through weekly virtual Baby Café meetings, and ongoing breastfeeding education for prenatal women and the community.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative has reduced racial disparities in breastfeeding rates. Minnesota Department of Health recognizes maternity centers that have taken steps toward implementing breastfeeding friendly practices through the Minnesota Breastfeeding Friendly Maternity Center Designation Program.
The pandemic has illuminated the many ways health is interconnected. Increasing public awareness of the vital benefits of breastfeeding and supporting local families to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship has never been more critical.”
For more information, contact Kylie Saari, CLC, WIC Breastfeeding coordinator; or Lauren Schofield, IBCLC, WIC coordinator, at (507) 238-4757.