National Breastfeeding Month is to be observed in the month of August.
(SAVANNAH, GA) In recognition of National Breastfeeding Month in August, local advocates are calling on organizations and businesses to pledge to support and provide breastfeeding-friendly spaces for employees and guests.
An initiative of the Georgia Department of Public Health, the local expansion is supported by the Centers for Disease Control’s Racial & Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant, administered by the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah. Local advocates are also working in conjunction with the Chatham County Health Department, Georgia Southern University Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health and Glow Lactation.
Building on the National Breastfeeding Month theme, “Together We Do Great Things,” local organizations are focusing on raising awareness of the disparities that discourage breastfeeding for Black mothers in Chatham County and the identifying opportunities to remove these barriers, particularly in the workplace.
Georgia Code An. Section 34-1-6 states that an employer may grant a reasonable unpaid break each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant and may make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other place, other than a toilet cubicle, where the employee can express her milk in privacy.
“We want to encourage local businesses to increase support for their employees by establishing and publicly posting a written Breastfeeding and Lactation Support Policy that sets out expectations for organizational leadership and employees. Staff. Then we want them to put that policy into action by creating appropriate space for moms who need to breastfeed or pump,” said Nandi A. Marshall, DrPH, MPH, CHES, CLC.
Marshall is Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Center for Public Health Practice and Research Affiliate Faculty, Department of Health Policy and Community Health, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University. She also leads the local effort to encourage Savannah businesses to adopt breastfeeding-friendly policies and environments and informs them of REACH grant funds to help them.
“Supporting breastfeeding mothers at work is not only the right thing to do, but it can also help your company or business. Science overwhelmingly shows that breastfed babies get sick less often,” Marshall said. “As a result, mothers who breastfeed their babies are much less likely to miss work during their baby’s first year of life. Benefits can also include increased retention rates, improved morale, and reduced healthcare and insurance costs. Meanwhile, there may be little or no cost to employers to convert an empty office or meeting room into a lactation space.
Marshall added that another benefit for organizations that complete the pledge, create policies and provide spaces is that they will be recognized by Healthy Savannah and the Georgia Department of Public Health as a health-friendly organization. ‘feeding with milk.
While there are currently a few public breastfeeding spaces, such as at the Oglethorpe Mall and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport Pod, Marshall and his team are looking for local businesses to operate the REACH grant-supported program to to expand the adoption of a company-wide policy and commitment to providing a suitable lactation space for employees. Marshall hopes that, as part of Breastfeeding Month in August and particularly in conjunction with Black Breastfeeding Week in the last week of the month, Chatham County businesses will help lead the way. establishing practices that break down the stigma that deters parents from breastfeeding.
“Breastfed and breastfed babies often have a stronger bond with their parent, fewer stomach and digestive problems, and a lower risk of many diseases such as asthma, SIDS and diabetes,” Shawntay Gadson said. , MHA, IBCLC.
Gadson is a lactation consultant and owner of Glow Lactation Services. She also works in Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and with various REACH grant supported programs. She has first-hand experience of the health value of breastfeeding.
“We want to be part of the change by changing the perception that black women don’t breastfeed because it’s just not true,” Gadson said. “But we know there are other hurdles to overcome as well. How do you tell a mom who can’t find formula and has no choice but to return to work after being home during a two-year pandemic, that she needs to express her milk in a public restroom ? We can do better. »
A 2019 CDC report on racial disparities in breastfeeding initiation and duration indicated that black infants had a significantly lower rate of breastfeeding at 3 months of age (58.0%) than white infants (72.7%); and that at 6 months of age, the rates were 44.7% in black infants and 62.0% in white infants.
In association with Gadson and other community leaders, and with the support of REACH grant funds, Marshall also began working to have Savannah/Chatham County recognized as a “breastfeeding friendly community” and recently facilitated the Savannah HOPE Photovoice Project, a photo book documenting the personal experiences of local black mothers using a combination of photography and storytelling. The project was developed to help identify social, cultural and physical barriers that discourage breastfeeding by Black mothers in Chatham County, as well as opportunities to remove these barriers.
Visit https://healthysavannah.org/healthy-savannah-and-ymca-announce-funding-and-support-for-breastfeeding-friendly-workplaces/?preview_id=12620 for more information on adopting a policy workplace to support breastfeeding employees or sign the pledge if you have a workplace policy in place. For more information on lactation resources and breastfeeding support in Chatham County, visit herohelpme.com.
ABOUT THE YMCA OF COASTAL GEORGIA/HEALTHY SAVANNAH GRANT FOR RACIAL AND ETHNIC APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY HEALTH: In September 2018, Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia were awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funding is being deployed in an “upstream” approach by the Savannah/Chatham County project team to foster sustainable health equity among Black residents of inner-city neighborhoods. The goal of the local project, called Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity, or HOPE, is to increase the availability of high-quality food; promote physical activity by creating better access to safe places to walk, run, cycle and play; and fostering stronger connections between people and the health care providers who serve them. Working with over 200 community partners and organizations, the team is committed to improving community health and well-being through policies, systems and environmental change.
Carriage Trade Public Relations® Inc.