Cook County WIC Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week
Jul 31, 2020 01:17PM
From Sawtooth Mountain Clinic - July 31, 2020
With the world in the midst of a global pandemic, it is a good time to recognize the important role breastfeeding plays in protecting babies all across the planet.
The Cook County WIC Program is celebrating Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month throughout August. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, is “Support breastfeeding for healthier families, healthier communities, healthier planet.” August 9-15, we celebrate Native Breastfeeding Week, with “Strong, Resilient, Latched.” The theme for Black Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 25-31, is “Revive, Restore, Reclaim.”
As we work to protect our youngest community members from disease, breastfeeding parents build their children’s immune systems by providing this living and protective food.
Parents may worry about the safety of breastfeeding during the pandemic. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to recommend breastfeeding. The benefits simply outweigh the potential risk of spreading the virus to the baby. In addition, researchers have not found the infectious virus in breastmilk. Even when a mother has COVID-19, she is advised to still breastfeed while doing hand hygiene and wearing a mask when with the baby.
This year’s world breastfeeding week also emphasizes how sustaining, sustainable, and climate friendly breastfeeding is. Human milk is a natural, renewable food produced and delivered to babies without pollution, packaging, or waste.
Finally, promoting breastfeeding and removing barriers faced by people of color is one way to address structural racism in Minnesota. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black, indigenous, and people of color due to underlying social, economic, and health disparities. These same underlying factors have made it more difficult over the years for Minnesotans of color to claim the right to breastfeed.
Supporting breastfeeding through culturally appropriate care increases initiation and duration rates across all racial and cultural groups. Cook County WIC supports breastfeeding by educating and supporting parents to help them meet their breastfeeding goals, nourishing breastfeeding parents, and connecting them to peer support. Through a unique partnership with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, WIC is embedded in a strong constellation of breastfeeding support strategies, including one-on-one lactation counseling and family home visiting, available to all Cook County residents free of charge.
“The double pandemics of racism and Covid-19 have challenged us all to reimagine what’s possible,“ said Hannah Miller, Public Health Nurse and WIC Coordinator. “To me, supporting breastfeeding means standing witness and helping parents find their power to disrupt cycles of trauma, establish food security, and make a future possible.”