MONROE — The state Department of Public Health, Monroe Health Department, and local partners are working together to create breastfeeding-friendly worksites throughout the state.

Though benefits of breastfeeding are clear, the ability to meet national breastfeeding recommendations is largely dependent upon the support systems within a family’s community. In Connecticut, more than 86% of infants are breastfed at birth, but that number drops to only 59.6% at 6 months of age.

All major health authorities, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agree that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants and recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed (receiving no other food or drink) for the first 6 months of life. Further, breastfeeding should continue along with appropriate complementary foods until the child is 1-2 years-old or longer.

“Breastfeeding families need more support,” said Nancy Brault, Monroe Health Department Director of Health. “That is why we have worked closely with the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library to create a breastfeeding station. We want residents to be successful and this station will allow residents the opportunity to have a quiet place to nurse while visiting the Monroe library.”

Breastfeeding provides numerous and well documented health benefits, including infant protection from a variety of diseases and conditions such as diarrhea, ear infections, urinary tract infection, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and childhood obesity. Mothers also experience improved health outcomes, including protection against the development of type 2 diabetes, lowered risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, and reduced risk of early menopause, which has been associated with cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death.

The Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition, DPH, and their partners launched The Breastfeeding: It’s Worth It! campaign to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates and to reduce the barriers in the environment, including institutions that cause women to stop breastfeeding before they are ready.

When employers and childcare providers implement supportive breastfeeding policies and practices, the state’s community support system is strengthened, and everyone succeeds. 

Employers benefit from reduced employee absenteeism, lower health care costs, and increased employee loyalty. 

Childcare providers see more infants who are less prone to spitting up, are sick less often, are less likely to have constipation or diarrhea, and their programs are sought out by breastfeeding families. 

Families receive the health benefits, cost savings, and the opportunity to enjoy the special bond of breastfeeding even when separations are necessary.

To learn more about how to  support breastfeeding in the community,  visit the It’s Worth It! CT website at itsworthitct.org and follow the campaign at https://www.facebook.com/breastfeedingct/.

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