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August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

– Call for nominations for 2015 Breastfeeding Friendly Business Awards

YPSILANTI, Mich., June 28, 2015 – August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan. Washtenaw County Public Health and the Washtenaw County Breastfeeding Coalition invite residents to celebrate a mother’s right to breastfeed by nominating an exemplary local business for a 2015 Breastfeeding Friendly Business Award. Nominations are due by Friday, August 7 and can be completed using this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WashtenawBFNominations. Winners will be honored at the annual Breastfeeding Friendly Business Awards ceremony on August 21.

“We want to recognize local business and organizations that are making it easy and comfortable for breastfeeding mothers and their babies to nurse when and where they need to,” says Ellen Rabinowitz, MUP, health officer for Washtenaw County Public Health. “Local organizations that are making the healthier choices the easier choices deserve our recognition.”

Last year, the Breastfeeding Antidiscrimination Act (Senate Bill 674) was signed into law in Michigan and protects the right of mothers to breastfeed in any space that is open to the public, such as stores, restaurants and public transportation.

“Inviting and encouraging moms to breastfeed anytime and anywhere will help change the culture around breastfeeding in public,” says Gayathri Akella, MS, RD, CLE, IBCLC, Washtenaw County Public Health WIC breastfeeding coordinator and coalition co-chair. “More and longer breastfeeding supports health and will lead to healthier children for generations to come.”

Now in its eighth year, the Breastfeeding Friendly Business Awards recognize local businesses and organizations that provide breastfeeding space, time and resources to their employees and customers. The winners are honored each year during National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, when activities and programs throughout the state and county draw attention to the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and children. This year’s Washtenaw County Breastfeeding Friendly Business Awards ceremony is scheduled for August 21. State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), a long-time champion of breastfeeding, will be the keynote speaker.

Breastfeeding – Every Time, Any Time

The facts are clear. Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a baby; it strengthens their immune system, guards them against obesity and diabetes and forges a strong bond with their mom, among many other benefits. It also helps protect moms from breast and ovarian cancers and from post-partum depression. But, until this past year, Michigan moms were often made to feel uncomfortable about feeding their babies in public, sometimes even being directed to breastfeed in bathrooms.

Communities can support mothers and babies by making them feel welcome to breastfeed in all public places and local establishments. “Breastfeeding is a natural act with many proven benefits,” says Stan Bien, WIC director with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “By supporting new mothers, we help ensure good infant health, reduce infant mortality rates and prevent obesity.”

Washtenaw County WIC has made great strides in its pursuit of the Healthy People 2020 targets. Through breastfeeding and nutrition education, the county has decreased its childhood obesity rates and increased breastfeeding rates among WIC participants.

The addition of local breastfeeding peer counselors is contributing to this success. WIC peer counselors provide support, education and positive role modeling. Peer counselors have helped the WIC program achieve a breastfeeding initiation rate of 80%, one of the highest rates in Michigan.

Washtenaw County Public Health

Washtenaw County Public Health promotes health and works to prevent disease or injury in our community. Our mission is to assure, in partnership with the community, the conditions necessary for people to live healthy lives through prevention and protection programs. Visit us online at http://publichealth.ewashtenaw.org.

Washtenaw County WIC

The Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, program provides supplemental food and nutrition education to pregnant women and children up to five years of age. The WIC program maintains a caseload over 5,500 clients per month. WIC also has trained breastfeeding peer counselors who provide support and guidance to breastfeeding moms. Follow the WIC breastfeeding peer counselors on Facebook.

WIC is a program of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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