SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed the month of August as Breastfeeding Promotion Month in the state of Illinois. Breastfeeding Promotion Month is designed to increase public awareness of breastfeeding as the normal and expected way to feed all babies in Illinois.
“The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, well known and research based. Mother s and babies alike benefit from breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed are protected against many maladies, including respiratory and ear infections, asthma, allergies, childhood cancer and obesity. Also, mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers,” said Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler. “That’s why it’s so important that we encourage and support breastfeeding and continue to remove the stigma that is sometimes associated with it.”
Illinois’ Breastfeeding Promotion Month coincides with the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated in more than 170 countries August 1-7, 2011. This year’s theme “Talk to Me! Breastfeeding- a 3D Experience!” focuses on the importance of communication in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. Creating and expanding communication about breastfeeding through social media outlets is leading to wider outreach and support in the community. Surfing the web for accurate breastfeeding information or sharing knowledge and experiences is just a click away.
IDHS promotes breastfeeding through the WIC program and The Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, which utilizes women who have breastfed their own babies and want to help other women successfully breastfeed. Breastfeeding Peer Counselors receive regular training so they are able to provide quality support and assist breastfeeding women. Many peer counselors use text messaging and social media outlets such as Facebook to answer questions from breastfeeding moms and to provide continuing support.
The department supports the Illinois State Breastfeeding Task Force along with 10 regional task forces as they promote awareness and education. IDHS also recently launched the Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint, an initiative that brings together stakeholders from across the state to help expand and set priorities, develop benchmarks for success and implement a five-year timeline for promoting and supporting breastfeeding awareness activities and efforts throughout the state of Illinois.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Survey, 70 percent of mothers in Illinois start out breastfeeding. The newly established Healthy People 2020 goals aim to increase breastfeeding initiation to 81.9 percent; increase breastfeeding at six months to 60.6 percent and exclusive breastfeeding at three months to a target of 46.2 percent. The Healthy People 2020 goals also focus on increasing the number of employers who have worksite lactation support programs and strive to increase the number of babies born at hospitals that provide recommended care for breastfeeding moms and their babies.
Local events and activities have been planned to promote breastfeeding knowledge and awareness during World Breastfeeding Week and Illinois Breastfeeding Promotion Month. For more information, please visit www.dhs.state.il.us or www.illinoisbreastfeeding.org.