August is National Breastfeeding Month
July 28, 2020
For newborns, the advantages of being fed breastmilk stay with them for a lifetime. Health professionals say breastfeeding has benefits for infants and mothers and is a key strategy to improve public health. Programs and services within the Chickasaw Nation have been developed to promote the benefits of this healthy practice.
Two major proponents of breastfeeding within the Chickasaw Nation are the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and women’s clinic and obstetrical department. Both provide education and peer counselors to new and expectant mothers.
“Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mothers and babies. Breastfeeding is more than nutrition. It is a relationship between a mother and her infant,” Chickasaw Nation WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Jamie Lee said.
The Chickasaw Nation WIC program is a non-discriminatory program, which provides nutritious foods at no charge to Native and non-Native pregnant or postpartum women, infants and children up to the age of 5.
WIC educators and nutritionists provide helpful nutrition information and counseling to moms and families. Lactation consultants and breastfeeding peer counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to encourage and support breastfeeding moms through daily challenges.
WIC breastfeeding consultants provide families with knowledge concerning breastfeeding and lactation management, as well as the capacity to understand and implement recommendations on infants’ and young children’s nutritional needs. This information is based on the most recent evidence from nutrition experts.
“WIC peer counselors attend the 72-hour USDA Learn Together, Grow Together training taught by an international board certified lactation consultant. All attend a 15-hour breastfeeding educator workshop within the first year of employment. They receive yearly continuing education training by attending conferences sponsored by WIC and various learning sessions provided by health care providers,” Lee said.
The women’s clinic and obstetrical department provides family planning services. These services include breastfeeding education. The Chickasaw Nation Medical Center is designated a Baby Friendly Hospital, meaning it offers breastfeeding support in an environment that best facilitates the mother’s success in accomplishing breastfeeding goals. Lactation services are available within the facility, and all nurses are skilled in providing breastfeeding support and education.
Breastfeeding is vital to the enduring good health and welfare of women and children. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend women begin breastfeeding their children within one hour of birth and continue exclusively for the first six months of the child’s life.
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding lowers an infant’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections, gastrointestinal tract infections, allergic disease, obesity and Type I and II diabetes, among many others,” Lee said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding alongside complementary food for one year or longer. Although most infants receive some breastmilk, most are not exclusively breastfed or continue to breastfeed as long as recommended.
Breastfeeding enables mothers to feed and care for their children in the most positive way. Breastfeeding contributes to a healthy society with its long-term effects on children’s cognitive and overall health benefits.
Breastfeeding is all the more important during COVID-19 as it helps to build the child's immune system. Breastfeeding parents are utilizing their time to bond with their child. Staying at home has allowed parents adequate space and time to breastfeed successfully.
For information on Chickasaw Nation WIC, call (855) 559-0985.