Breastfeeding is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies should be fed only breast milk for the first six months of their lives.
Benefits for Baby
Breastfeeding offers many advantages to infants.
- Breast milk fights disease – antibodies in breast milk protect babies from many chronic and acute illness.
- Breast milk is easier to digest.
- Breastfeeding promotes a stronger bond between mother and child.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to have asthma, ear infections, allergies, and diabetes. They're also less likely to become obese.
Benefits for Mom
- Breastfeeding not only benefits infants, but also has advantages for mothers.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money – formula and feeding supplies can cost more than $1,500 a year.
- Breastfeeding uses extra calories, making it easier to lose the extra pounds gained during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding can feel great - the process of breastfeeding causes the body to produce increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that calms the mother and helps milk flow.
- Breastfeeding is also good for the mother's health- women who breastfeeding have been shown to have lower risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.
- Women who breastfeeding miss less work because their babies are sick less often.
- Breastfeeding support information
- Breastfeeding answers from La Leche League
- La Leche League Support groups in Northern Virginia
- Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work
- The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding
Local Breastfeeding Resources
- Casey Health Center: (703) 746-4886. Breastfeeding information and counseling for Alexandria Health Department clients with WIC. Services include free manual breast pumps, and loan of electric breast pumps to qualified mothers. English and Spanish speaking peer counselor. Dianea Ortiz (703) 746-4837.
- Alexandria WIC: 4480 King Street, 2nd Floor (703) 746-4998. The program provides screening and referrals to other health, welfare and social service agencies, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support as well as supplemental nutritious foods. To be eligible for the WIC Program, applicants must meet categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements. Spanish speaking peer counselor. Stephanie (703) 746-4958.
- Inova Alexandria Hospital Lactation Center: 4320 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22304.(703)-504-7867 (PUMP) Breast pump sales and rentals, breastfeeding supplies and bra fittings.Office hours Monday-Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm.
- Inova Alexandria Hospital Outpatient Latch Clinics: Wednesday and Thursday 1:00-2:00pm, by appointment ($25).
- Inova Alexandria Hospital New Mother’s Support Group:Tuesday mornings from 12:45-2:45 in HEC 1&2. FREE group open to Mothers with Breastfeeding Babies of any age who delivered anywhere, with the purpose of meeting other mothers for socialization and support.
- The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington: 2141 K St NW #3, Washington, DC 20037.(202) 293-5182. Provids expert-led free and low-cost classes and private consultations with Board Certified Lactation Consultants.
Supporting Breastfeeding in the workplace
Women returning to work after maternity leave want to be successful both as employees and as mothers. Employers can help by providing an environment supportive of breastfeeding and, as a result, also help their company's bottom line.
With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, all U.S. businesses with 50 or more employees are now required to provide reasonable break time and a sanitary, private place for nursing mothers to express breast milk at work, for up to one year following a child's birth. The Department of Labor Fact Sheet #73, Break Time for Nursing Mothers , provides general information on the break time requirement.
STEPS to a Basic Workplace Lactation Program
- Support- from managers and coworkers;
- Time- two to three 15-20 minute breaks during an 8-hour work period;
- Education- access to information about breastfeeding and workplace lactation policies; and,
- Private Place- preferably a 4' X 5' room with a locking door and access to running water and electricity.
The Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network (A-COAN) is available to assist local businesses in establishing programs to support nursing moms when they return to work. For more information, please contact Bianca Lawless, Community Coordinator, at email@example.com.
- Lactation room locations for City of Alexandria employees
- A planning guide for becoming a breastfeeding-friendly worksite
- Creating a breastfeeding support program for nursing mothers at work
- Toolkit for workplace breastfeeding programs and policies
- State Opportunities and Strategies for Breastfeeding Promotion through the Affordable Care Act
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Entire Toolkit
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite—Bottom Line Benefits
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Easy Steps to Supporting Breastfeeding Employees
- A helpful video from the Office on Women's Health - Space Solutions for Nursing Women at Work
Breastfeeding Promotion Committee
Forty-three percent of Alexandria children ages 2-5 are overweight or obese. This shocking statistic galvanized the community to join together to address the problem. The Childhood Obesity Action Network (COAN), a community-led partnership, was formed, and with input from all sectors of the community, developed an action plan. One of the key elements of the plan is to promote breastfeeding, since preventing childhood obesity begins and birth and breastfeeding is associated with reducing the risk of pediatric overweight.
The Breastfeeding Promotion Committee goals are to: develop consistent and culturally appropriate health messaging for providers (including non-health providers) about the benefits of breastfeeding; advocating for more accommodations for breastfeeding mothers; advocating for local policy changes to encourage breastfeeding; and developing an outreach plan to businesses of all sizes in the community. An early success of the committee’s efforts was the successful adoption by Alexandria City Council of a resolution promoting breastfeeding, which specifically includes language that ensures women are allowed to breastfeed on City property, encourages business to adopt breastfeeding policies, and request the City Manager to create a breastfeeding support policy. The City Council also amended its indecent exposure law to specifically exclude breastfeeding. The committee met with representatives from the local Chamber and is developing an outreach strategy to local businesses to “make the case” for breastfeeding. Members of the committee also develop messages to be used locally that are culturally sensitive to Alexandria’s diverse community, and address some of the obstacles to breastfeeding new Alexandria mothers revealed in interviews the committee conducted. The Committee also plans events in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.
The new co-chairs of the Breastfeeding Promotion Committee are Julia Schneider, MPH and Katie Potestio, MPH, RD, both of whom work for national non-profits that support chronic disease prevention. They are excited to reinvigorate this group and have many activities planned for 2015.
We welcome volunteers who live in Alexandria but also those who live in surrounding areas and are interested in getting involved in local coalition work. We host monthly meetings at local coffee shops around the area and we welcome young kids at our meetings.
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