COLUMBUS— Today, Rep. Galonski (D-Akron), a member of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC), recognized the month of August as National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7), which both promote public awareness and support for breastfeeding.
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.” In line with this theme, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are calling on governments to protect and promote women's access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.
“All of the studies and data show that breast milk is best for human babies. The amount of bonding and immune system protections are second to none. I appreciate the mothers of premature babies who find their little ones unable to nurse, but who show their dedication to early nutrition by pumping. Breast feeding is a natural way of feeding and can help African American newborns overcome the hurdle of infant mortality, which still plagues too many of Ohio’s most vulnerable babies,” said Rep. Galonski.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to almost all mothers and infants, but the benefits may be significantly greater for minority women. Minority women are disproportionately affected by adverse health outcomes, and their health may improve with breastfeeding. There are numerous barriers to breastfeeding that affect all women such as reported pain/discomfort, embarrassment, employment and inconvenience. Additionally, there are also obstacles that are unique and more frequent among racial/ethnic minority women including a lack of social, work, and cultural acceptance/support, language and literacy barriers, lack of maternal access to information that promotes and supports breastfeeding, acculturation and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use.
The OBMHC has introduced several bills to promote women’s access to breastfeeding services, including:
- House Bill (HB) 611 (Hicks-Hudson, Crawley): To require Medicaid coverage of doula services. The role of the doula in early breastfeeding support can help women reach their goals of a satisfying and successful transition to motherhood;
- Senate Bill (SB) 94 (Maharath): To enact the "Ohio Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant or breastfeeding.