As a mother awaits the arrival of her new bundle of joy, she makes plans on how she will parent, love, care for and, most importantly, feed her baby.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is the “gold standard.” There are more than 30 components found in breast milk that protect babies from infections and illness.

Moms should try and breastfeed exclusively for six months, which means NO complementary foods — no water, infant formula or any other foods.

Breastfeeding can offer health benefits for babies and mothers and boost bonding between mom and baby, in addition to cost savings and other benefits for the whole community, all the way around.

Benefits to babies include decreased risk of:

• Ear infections                                        

• Asthma

• Respiratory infections                        

• Digestion problems (diarrhea/vomiting)

• Obesity

• Type 2 diabetes

• Childhood leukemia

• Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Benefits to moms include decreased risk of:

• Breast cancer

• Ovarian cancer

• High blood pressure

• Heart disease

• Type 2 diabetes

• Complications post-delivery

Mothers are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labor force. Approximately 60% of employed mothers who work full-time have children under the age of 3.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 60% of mothers stop breastfeeding before they plan to. Two of the main reasons are lack of education and encouragement, as well as access to community support.

Due to more mothers working outside of the home, there is a strong need to establish lactation support in the workplace.

The Fair Labors Standards Act, Section 4207, states that employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express milk.”

Employers are also required to provide a place other than a bathroom that may be used by an employee to express breast milk. Such a place should be shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public.

Here in Alabama, the law states that a mom has the right to breastfeed ANYWHERE, public or private, that she is otherwise authorized to be.

We all have the ability to support breastfeeding moms in our community, even if it’s just words of encouragement like, “You are doing a great job breastfeeding.”

Child-care centers see moms and babies most days of the week — which makes them a natural and logical place for supporting breastfeeding.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is supporting breastfeeding mothers and families by offering Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care certification training for child-care centers across the state.

Currently, the continuing education training is offered at no cost, but that will only be for a short period of time.

Contact your local county Extension office to set up your training with me, Sheree Taylor, and become the next Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care center in Alabama.

Contact me at 256-237-1621, 256-499-7146 or snr0010@auburn.edu.

Sheree Taylor is a regional educator for human nutrition, diet and health for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

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