Groups want breastfeeding numbers in Kansas to rise

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – More than 80 percent of Kansas mothers have breastfed their babies, but numbers start to decline as babies get older.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and some people in the state are focusing on getting breastfeeding numbers up.

Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC programs at county health departments help mothers stay with breastfeeding.

Kay Powell, WIC Team Leader for the Shawnee County Health Department said women might choose to stop breastfeeding when they go back to their job.

“They’re going back to work and it’s just a coordinating and pumping and going to work and all, it just takes a lot of energy to keep doing that,” Powell said.

The Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition tries to bring people together to promote increased breastfeeding in the state.

“We are really trying to get education before women become pregnant because we know breastfeeding is the norm, but once they become pregnant to know what to expect,” said Brenda Banda, Executive Director for the Coalition.

The WIC program shows mothers why nutrients in breast milk are so important to growing babies.

“Breastfed babies are healthier, lot less incidents of childhood illnesses as well as throughout their life,” said David Thomason, Director of Nutrition and WIC Services at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Mothers that qualify for WIC can receive counseling, breast pumps, and a comfortable place to feed their child.

“Sometimes it just takes practice for mom and baby, they’re both new at this trying to learn how to breastfeed, and so sometimes there’s some little tips we can give to get them a good latch and make sure they get a good feeding,” Powell said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and to supplement it with other foods for at least a year.

“Many times these are first-time moms and of course brand new babies, and they need the help and support, and a lot of women might not know all of things that go into breastfeeding and we’re there to help them be successful,” Thomason said.

Many hospitals where a woman gave birth offer similar services to what is provided to women at health departments.

Governor Kelly will hold a proclamation Friday morning to commemorate breastfeeding awareness month.

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