Breastfeeding Awareness Week in South Dakota
Gov. Kristi Noem proclaimed Aug. 1-7 as Breastfeeding Awareness Week to recognize the benefits it brings to South Dakota babies.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The American Academy of Pediatrics says the health benefits of breastfeeding a baby are countless. AAP suggests breastfeeding for at least one year and exclusively for the first six months results in numerous health benefits to mothers and babies. But it’s not always easy for a mother to nurse her baby. That’s where the lactation consultants at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital come into play. The services began in 2001 with one part time employee and has now grown into a staff of seven helping new mothers feed their babies after birth. Molly Meehan-Rasby, RN and Breastfeeding Consultant, says there is a gap between breastfeeding generations.
Meehan-Rasby says, “We just like to focus on the benefits and then need to breast-feed, you know. I think what happened was that a long time in the 40s, 50s and 60s we didn’t really know what was in milk (in human milk). We didn’t have the electron microscope yet, we didn’t really understand, so we thought there was a way to supplement or to use good food and not use human milk. And then we realized ‘oh my gosh’ it’s way different and so then we had to kind of re-school our entire culture and we’re still doing it.”
The team helps five to ten mothers daily, teaching them how to properly breastfeed easily and effectively. Assisting those mothers who choose to nurse, as it may be difficult at first. They work through barriers, helping with latching and technique.
Meehan-Rasby says with so many working moms it’s getting harder for women to breastfeed. Some places like Regional are taking a breastfeeding friendly business pledge, giving breastfeeding and pumping mothers more options, and helping to normalize breastfeeding in society.
“We’re trying to make it easier. We helped a couple years ago write a state law that would allow moms to nurse in public. There’s federal stuff in terms of workplace protection. We just have to keep making it easier and easier for moms to get to that year,” says Meehan-Rasby.
South Dakota joins other states and countries around the globe in celebrating this year’s theme, “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding” focuses on breastfeeding as a team effort.
Regional hosts a weekly breastfeeding support group facilitated by hospital lactation consultants.
Starting August 1 businesses can also apply for the Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Grant to receive up to $1,000 to create a new lactation space, improve an existing space, or utilize innovative, space-saving ideas to meet staff breastfeeding needs for employees primarily working outdoors and/or who frequently travel. All types and sizes of South Dakota businesses are eligible to apply such as for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, childcare centers, schools, colleges, universities, technical schools, churches, public buildings, pools, parks, recreation centers, and more. For more information about the grant visit, www.healthysd.gov/fundingopportunities<http://www.healthysd.gov/fundingopportunities>.