COLUMBUS— Today, Rep. Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), a member of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC), recognized the month of August as National Breastfeeding Month and Aug. 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week, both of which 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.
“This World Breastfeeding Week, let’s remind parents and empower them by providing access to information that will support mothers in the first few crucial months of their child’s life. Encouraging women to provide natural, healthy breastmilk to newborns is essential for Ohio’s future,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan.
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.