Breastfeeding Awareness Year Round

By Lizeth Betancourt, Yolo County International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
August 2014

As National Breastfeeding Awareness Month comes to a close, the Yolo County Health Services Department reminds us that breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial acts a mother can do for her child. In Yolo County, breastfeeding is supported year round as evidenced by California Department of Public Health data showing 85% of babies born to Yolo County mothers are breastfed in the hospital. The state rate is 65%.

“Research shows babies who receive only breast milk for the first six months are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, obesity and respiratory illnesses,” said Yolo County Health Officer Constance Caldwell, M.D. “Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.”

Yolo County, as well as medical organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, strongly recommend babies exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, and continue to breastfeed in combination with complementary foods until at least one year of age to achieve optimal health.

Breastfeeding doesn’t always happen easily for everyone. Starting out right helps to ensure breastfeeding is a pleasant experience for both mother and baby. If baby has difficulties latching-on or sucking, or has other health problems that complicate breastfeeding, community resources, including assistance from a lactation consultant, can help resolve these issues and ensure that new mothers feel supported.

Yolo County supports and encourages breastfeeding in a number of ways, starting with the Breastfeeding Coalition of Yolo County. Consisting of representatives from hospitals, community organizations and mothers, the coalition promotes and supports breastfeeding and the use of human milk though education, outreach and advocacy.

Yolo County offers clients of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program comprehensive support and peer counselors, lactation educators and an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Additionally, WIC offers prenatal and postpartum breastfeeding education, guidance on breast milk expression and a breast pump service for eligible participants.

Another Yolo County resource is the Breastfeeding Warm Line, 1-800-663-8685, for mothers to call after leaving the hospital with questions or concerns about breastfeeding. The goal of the warm line is to support breastfeeding families by linking them to resources in the community.

Breastfeeding services are also available through CommuniCare Health Centers, Sutter Davis Hospital, Woodland Memorial Hospital (Dignity Health), Woodland Healthcare and Winters Healthcare Foundation. Community support can be found in Davis at Mother & Baby Source, La Leche League of Davis and the Breastfeeding Support Program for UC Davis students, staff and faculty.

Women with infants and toddlers are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. workforce. Employers that make it easy for mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work have enjoyed positive results, including lower absenteeism, higher productivity, company loyalty and lower healthcare costs. Required by California state law since 2002, and included in the recent healthcare reform bill, lactation accommodation includes providing employees with reasonable break time and a private place (other than a restroom) to express milk.

Yolo County supports creation of a positive, accepting attitude toward working women and breastfeeding, and has had an employee lactation accommodation policy in place since 2005. The Yolo County Health Services Department is also committed to supporting breastfeeding in the community. For more information, call the Yolo County Breastfeeding Coordinator at (530) 666-8427.