Every four years, nations around the world join together for the Olympic Games.
Every day of the year, mothers choose how they will feed their babies.
The 2008 World Breastfeeding Week theme this year is, "Mother Support: Going for the gold."
Just like athletes participating in this year's Olympic Games who want to give the best performance they can, more and more mothers worldwide want to "go for the gold" and give the best they can by breastfeeding their infants.
The majority of mothers in Indiana are choosing to "go for the gold" by breastfeeding at least in the early days after the baby is born. Data released in July from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 65 percent of Hoosier babies are ever breastfed, more than 35 percent are breastfed at least six months, and almost 25 percent are exclusively breastfed the first three months. As good as these numbers are, the state still lags behind the national average of 74 percent ever breastfed, 43 percent breastfed at least six months and 31 percent exclusively breastfed the first three months.
To help working mothers continue to breastfeed, the Indiana General Assembly passed and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law Senate Bill 219 "Lactation Support in the Workplace, effective July 1, 2008. The law requires government employers and employers with 25 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding employees, including reasonable paid breaks for the employee to express breast milk, a location for privacy other than a toilet stall to express breast milk and reasonable efforts to provide a refrigerator or other cold storage for the mother to keep her expressed breast milk. The law further states that except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence or bad faith, the employer is not liable for any harm resulting from the expression of breast milk or the storage of breast milk on the employer's premises.
Benefits of continued breastfeeding for mothers and babies are well known. Benefits for employers as a result of this law are expected to include lower absenteeism since breastfed babies are healthier and will need parents to miss work less often, lower health care costs and lower employee turnover rates.
For more information about breastfeeding and helping mothers "go for the gold" for their babies, contact Liz Wheby, RD, Clay County WIC, at 442-0573.