LANSING, Mich. – A new initiative in Michigan is promoting early breastfeeding success.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Women, Infant and Children program is announcing a community engagement initiative in August to coincide with Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
“We expect these efforts to result in more mothers introducing their newborns to breastfeeding and in babies continuing to breastfeed as they get older,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for MDHHS. “That will lead to healthier babies and closer families.”
Breastfeeding has an important role in improving public health outcomes, but barriers can sometimes exist that prevent families from reaching their breastfeeding goals. To help all families successfully breastfeed, Michigan WIC is coordinating with and supporting the work of breastfeeding partners across the state, particularly hospitals and prenatal clinics.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is to improve care coordination so that mothers are surrounded with the support they need to reach their breastfeeding goals. This is achieved by:
- Educating mothers prenatally and in the hospital about breastfeeding and its benefits.
- Implementing evidence-based practices in the hospital – such as skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, “rooming in” by having mother and baby in the same room, limiting visitors and feeding baby on cue.
- Using community organization breastfeeding support services earlier in pregnancy and after discharge.
Partners in the MDHHS initiative include the Michigan Breastfeeding Network, hospitals, WIC agencies, and coalitions to provide continuity of care for mothers and babies and other community supporters of breastfeeding.
Gov. Rick Snyder has declared August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan in order to further reduce infant mortality and increase the health of mothers and babies through education and support of breastfeeding. These efforts include collaboration among hospitals, businesses, community agencies and coalitions, and health care providers to give families consistent and accurate information.
“Breastfeeding promotes strong immune systems and protects against illness and infection,” said Julie Lothamer, WIC lactation consultant for MDHHS. “It guards against childhood obesity and diabetes and helps form a unique mother-baby bond. Educating families before babies are born and providing consistent, accessible support through the first year of life and beyond are keys to helping moms and babies develop strong feeding relationships and reach their breastfeeding goals.”
Michigan Breastfeeding Awareness Month activities have included breastfeeding walks, ice cream socials and Rock-and-Rest tents at community events where mothers are being provided a shaded area to breastfeed and change their baby.
For more information, visit the MDHHS WIC breastfeeding webpage.