Apalachicola, FL - The Florida Department of Health in Franklin County is highlighting the importance of breastfeeding during National Breastfeeding Month. Breastfeeding plays a critical role in healthy development from the very beginning of a child's life.
"One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant is to breastfeed," said Marsha Lindeman, Administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Franklin and Gulf Counties. "The health department has Certified Lactation Counselors available to assist pregnant mothers as well as breastfeeding support services offered through our Healthy Start program. Additionally, the Healthy Start program continues to provide free breastfeeding classes in Apalachicola."
Earlier this year, the department launched the Florida Healthy Babies initiative and has invested nearly two million dollars in helping hospitals around the state promote "Baby Steps to Baby Friendly" in order to support mothers in practicing exclusive breastfeeding for their infants. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses.
DOH-Franklin recognizes that the success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, and employers. Franklin County Community Health Improvement Partners have incorporated breastfeeding support strategies into the county's three-year plan. Additionally, a Healthy Moms and Babies meeting was held in June and open to the community to identify opportunities to enhance prenatal support and connect pregnant mothers to local breastfeeding resources.
To reach the goal of exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months, mothers need supportive maternity leave policies, flexible work hours, infant and child-care at or near the workplace, and private facilities for expressing and storing breastmilk. It takes time and practice to learn how to breastfeed, both for mother and baby, and to establish a good milk supply.
For more information about the Florida WIC program call 1-800-342-3556 or visit www.FloridaWIC.org. To learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding visit www.llli.org or www.flbreastfeeding.org.