Public Health Corner: Breastfeeding Awareness

Brown County Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program is celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is the standard for infant feeding. It is recommended that infants be fed only breastmilk to about six months of age, and then to one year along with the introduction of solid foods appropriate for an infant. Continued breastfeeding to up to two years of age is recommended if desired by mom and baby. Public Health departments across the state, in addition to healthcare providers, community partners, employers and childcare centers are persistently working to make breastfeeding the norm. We are making progress!

In 2018, greater than 89 percent of Minnesota moms breastfed their infants post-birth. By three months only 56 percent of infants continued to be fed only breastmilk, and by 6 months only 37 percent. In comparison to 2016, these three- and six-month rates improved but still did not meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy People 2020 goals. Because of this, increasing the length to which infants are breastfed remains a public health priority.

In the Minnesota WIC program, the top reason that most women stop breastfeeding is because they believe that they are not producing enough milk to keep their baby well-fed. Most often this is not the case. A small percentage (5% or less) of women are truly unable to breastfeed–they do not have the proper anatomy or hormonal makeup for it. In rarer cases, mom or baby cannot breastfeed due to other circumstances, in which are most often medical in nature. Even so, Minnesota and U.S. moms (and their babies!) continue to face a variety of challenges with breastfeeding, mostly relating to the support they receive from family, friends or the workplace.

In industrialized countries like the U.S., women after giving birth are at the highest risk of developing the “baby blues” and postpartum depression. In the excitement of welcoming a new infant into this world, it is easy to forget that this is a critical time for women to heal and transition. It is also an important time for mom and baby to establish breastfeeding, and perhaps more importantly, a bond vital to early child development. In terms of infant feeding, the Brown County Public Health WIC program’s overall goal is to support mothers after birth. Let us all make a point to support our family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker with a new baby whether they breastfeed or not.

Community members may contact their local Public Health for breastfeeding support at the WIC phone number listed below.

AAP’s Statement on Breastfeeding: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827

DHHS’s Guide to Breastfeeding: https://www.womenshealth.gov/patient-materials/resource/guides

For more information please contact Brown County WIC at (507) 233-6810 or email Vanessa.Mack@co.brown.mn.us.