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Tulsa Health Department Event Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

(Tulsa, OK) In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), the Tulsa Health Department will host a reception honoring mothers in the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program who choose to breastfeed. The event will be held on Friday, August 10th at 11:00 a.m. at the Southwood Baptist Church, located at 10110 East 41st Street in Tulsa. Approximately 100 local women take part in the event each year.

The theme for this year’s celebration is Support Breastfeeding: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility, which focuses on the importance of supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed. Supporting breastfeeding is important for mothers and their infants, as well as for employers, the community, and the environment. Every day a mom breastfeeds is one more day of better health for both mom and baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive only human milk (no formula, food, or water) for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding and the addition of complimentary foods for up to one year or beyond.

Many women who would like to breastfeed make the decision either not to breastfeed or to wean early, due to their need to return to work. According to recent data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 74.6 percent of Oklahoma mothers breastfeed initially, but only 34.9 percent continue to breastfeed for six months or longer. Many women who choose not to breastfeed cite returning to work or school as the reason. Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work can be a challenge for many working mothers, and having a supportive workplace can impact a mother’s decision on whether or not to continue to breastfeed throughout her baby’s first year

“Workplaces that provide a supportive environment can help ease the stress and help mothers feel good about their decision to combine working and breastfeeding,” said Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart. “An environment where breastfeeding is supported will encourage women to meet their breastfeeding goals.”

Oklahoma has a program in place to recognize worksites that have met criteria to become breastfeeding friendly. These worksites allow flexible break times and a private location for nursing mothers to express milk, have access to a nearby water source for washing hands and breast pump equipment, and have a written breastfeeding policy.

The Tulsa Health Department has resources to help inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, health professionals, and the community on how they can actively support mothers to continue to breastfeed for at least the baby’s first year and beyond.

For more information about breastfeeding resources and the Tulsa event, please contact Tulsa Health Department WIC Manager Cheryl Schendt at 918-594-4820.

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