The Tennessee Department of Health reports they have been helping mothers give their babies the best start in life for more than 90 years, and education and support for breastfeeding are a big part of these important efforts. TDH celebrates World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7 to help promote the importance of breastfeeding as a lifesaving goal.
"When we think about how we can protect the health of a baby once she is born, breastfeeding is an optimal choice and is one of the best examples of primary prevention, something that can stop a future health issue from ever even happening in the first place," said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "We fully support all efforts to encourage more mothers to nurse their babies, and we urge Tennesseans to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding to help build the community of support for nursing mothers and babies in the workplace and every place."
The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2015 is Breastfeeding and Work: Let's Make It Work!, emphasizing the importance of workplace support for breastfeeding women. Businesses that support breastfeeding reap numerous benefits including retention of experienced employees; reduction in sick time taken by both mothers and fathers for children's illnesses; and lower health care and insurance costs. The goal of this year's WBW is to empower and support all women working in both the formal and informal sectors to adequately combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding at work Pledge in TN:
Numerous efforts are underway in Tennessee to support breastfeeding mothers. To date, more than 600 businesses have taken the "Breastfeeding Welcomed Here" pledge, indicating their support for mothers to breastfeed at their locations. Find the list of participating businesses or take the pledge at www.tn.gov/health/article/
The Tennessee Department of Health also offers the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline, 1-855-4BF-MOMS (1-855-423-6667). This toll-free hotline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week to connect breastfeeding mothers, caregivers, family members and others seeking information on breastfeeding with international board-certified lactation consultants and certified lactation counselors. TDH provides the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline in partnership with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.
"The Tennessee Department of Health recognizes breastfeeding as a primary strategy for preventing poor health outcomes in mothers and babies," said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP. "We are pleased to partner with numerous public and private stakeholders to give Tennessee babies the best possible start in life by promoting and supporting breastfeeding."
Tennessee lawmakers also support the vital practice of breastfeeding. The Tennessee General Assembly has passed laws protecting a mother's right to breastfeed in any location, public or private; prohibiting local governments from criminalizing or restricting breastfeeding; and requiring employers in Tennessee to accommodate breastfeeding mothers at work.