The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week which is aimed at recognizing the importance of breastfeeding.
This year's theme focuses on engaging and mobilizing intergenerational communication to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. To help celebrate this event and increase awareness in our own community, the Columbia Gorge Breastfeeding Coalition will host a breastfeeding information booth at First Friday on Aug. 5 in downtown Hood River.
The superiority of human milk over substitutes is well documented and acknowledged by the medical community and the general population. To strengthen networking among breastfeeding resources , increase awareness of local needs, close existing gaps in care and build and maintain connections within the Columbia Gorge, a group of local people dedicated to increasing the health of our community through breastfeeding have come together to form The Columbia Gorge Breastfeeding Coalition or CGBC.
The mission of the coalition is to increase breastfeeding initiation, duration and success by promoting breastfeeding as normal and optimal, reducing barriers to breastfeeding through education and outreach, and helping breastfeeding families make strong and lasting connections with community resources.
CGBC goals are:
Breastfeeding will be the norm in the Columbia Gorge.
Breastfeeding families will have timely access to evidence-based information and support
All healthcare providers will be knowledgeable about, promote and facilitate breastfeeding.
"We have very good breastfeeding initiation rates among mothers in the Gorge. It's duration we need to work on and getting people help and support when they need it most," says Jennifer McCauley, chair of CGBC.
In addition to working with moms and families, the coalition seeks to engage business owners to create breastfeeding friendly policies and practices.
One of the roles of the CGBC is to connect families with resources in the area. Some of the supports for new moms are: an inpatient/outpatient lactation clinic at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital staffed by Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), Providence Women's Clinic , Hood River Health Department, La Clinica del Carino, Mid Columbia Medical Center, Klickitat County Health Department, and Skyline Hospital. All consultants offer breastfeeding support. Klickitat County Health Department also provides a peer-breast feeding coach for any mom wanting breastfeeding support.
Breastfeeding is an extremely beneficial gift lasting a lifetime. Benefits for infants include a reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, intestinal and ear infections, increased dental health and IQ. Benefits for mothers include a decreased risk for uterine, ovarian and breast cancer, osteoporosis and a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight. It creates a loving bond between a mother and her child, is environmentally friendly and the healthcare expenses saved are in the millions of dollars.
For more information regarding CGBC or for breastfeeding questions please call Jennifer McCauley RN at 541-387-6344, Ellen Mallon RN at 541-387-7131, or Barbara Kuhlman RN at 493-1558.