Breastfeeding Awareness Walk shines light on healthy, natural activity
The biggest issue that surrounds breastfeeding is the lack of support. A nursing mother needs continuous support from family, friends and even medical staff. According to Lynne Ryan, breastfeeding coordinator at Monongalia County Health Department’s WIC program, most women are able to breastfeed with good support because it is a learned skill.
On Wednesday, Aug. 7, the 12th Annual Breastfeeding Awareness Walk will be held at West Virginia University’s Erickson Alumni Center from 5-7 p.m. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m. Free on-site parking will be available.
This event is open to the public and is all about raising awareness and support for breastfeeding mothers. There will be food and activities for everyone. Some of these include a baby crawl, drawings for prizes, face painting and visits from Monti Bear, WVU Medicine Children’s mascot, and Cooper, West Virginia Black Bear’s mascot.
For the first time, a Daddy Olympics event will be held. Dads will compete by using dolls in a series of activities, such as changing a diaper. The winning dad will get a prize. “Dads’ support with breastfeeding is so important,” said Ryan, who is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Each child in attendance will win a book or a small item and everyone has a chance to win prizes throughout the event. This year, prizes include two jogging strollers, a car seat and a pack-and-play.
Dr. Emily Nease, a pediatrician and an IBCLC at WVU Medicine’s Pediatric Clinic, will be the speaker for this year’s walk.
This event, held in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, is very important because misinformation still exists when it comes to breastfeeding.
Did you know there is a law that protects mothers when breastfeeding in public? It is called the West Virginia Child’s Right to Nurse Act. It allows women to breastfeed their child in public anywhere that the mother-child pair are authorized to be.
Federation legislation protects a woman’s right to pump when she goes back to work. “In an eight-hour workday, three 15-minute breaks usually take care of it,” Lynne said.
The walk is presented by the Monongalia County Breastfeeding Taskforce. The group provides breastfeeding support for Monongalia County and consists of lactation consultants, midwives, obstetricians and pediatricians from MCHD WIC, WVU Medicine Children’s, Mon Health Medical Center, Cardinal Pediatrics and West Virginia Healthy Start’s HAPI Project.
It is important to know where you can get help when breastfeeding. There are many locations that provide breastfeeding support, such as, hospitals, pediatric offices, support groups, lactation groups/consultants and WIC. In fact, all six of MCHD WIC’s locations—in Monongalia, Preston, Marion, Harrison, Doddridge and Taylor counties—offer free breastfeeding classes that are open to the public, not just to WIC clients.
This walk is another way to meet people and to potentially create your own support group. It is a way to get everyone together and talking. This may even be the first time a woman breastfeeds in public. What a great place to be your first time!
Since having support available, local WIC numbers of breastfeeding mothers have increased. In 15 years, the duration rate of mothers who breastfeed at least during a baby’s first six months has increased from 20 percent to 34 percent, which is almost at the national level.
Aside from raising awareness about breastfeeding support, it is important to know the great benefits breastfeeding offers both the mother and baby.
For the baby, breast milk gives them all the nutrition they need. It’s the most natural food you can offer your baby. Breast milk is also easily digested. The child gets sick less often and it helps with facial and oral development.
For mothers, breastfeeding helps them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, increases hormones that are calming and helpful to a new mother and it reduces the risk later in life for breast, ovarian and uterine cancers as well as with osteoporosis.
Remember to stop by the 12th Annual Breastfeeding Awareness Walk on Wednesday, Aug. 7 to support breastfeeding mothers and to have a chance to win some great prizes.