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For Release:  July 17, 2014 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Everyone Can Help Support a Mother’s Breastfeeding Goal for Life!
World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, 2014

Most women today choose to breastfeed and the health benefits are well documented. However, many Oklahoma mothers are not meeting the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to exclusively breastfeed for six months and continue for up to two years of age.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is promoting World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, with the theme Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life! to focus on the importance of setting personal breastfeeding goals and relying on family, friends and community members to cheer them on as they reach their winning goal.

According to data provided in the 2011 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and 2012 Toddler Survey data compiled by OSDH, in 2011, 78.8 percent of Oklahoma mothers initiated breastfeeding, however only 35.2 percent of Oklahoma mothers breastfeed for six or more months. Oklahoma initiation rates are close to meeting the national benchmark of 81.9 percent of mothers initiating breastfeeding as established by Healthy People 2020 (HP 2020). However, much improvement is still needed to meet the HP 2020 goal for 60.6 percent of mothers to breastfeed for at least six months.

Major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Family Physicians recommend that babies receive nothing but breastmilk during the first six months of life, and continue receiving breastmilk for at least the first year and beyond. Social support plays a big role in a mother’s willingness to continue breastfeeding, while a lack of support in the hospital, or family attitudes against breastfeeding are common reasons for moms to decrease or stop breastfeeding.

Like any aspect of raising a child, breastfeeding requires the encouragement from a team of people. During World Breastfeeding Week, OSDH WIC clinics will be encouraging breastfeeding in Oklahoma by presenting award certificates to mothers who choose to breastfeed.  Mothers who reach long range breastfeeding goals will receive “marathon” stickers to acknowledge their successes.

According to the surveys, many mothers say their efforts to breastfeed are enhanced by having support at home or at work, as well as receiving breastfeeding instruction and education from healthcare providers. Since breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for both mother and baby, it is important that family members, clinicians, friends, and employers know how they can help make breastfeeding easier. Fathers can help by bringing baby to his or her mother when he notices feeding cues like the baby is sucking on his or her hand. Grandparents, friends and family members can also help by limiting the number of visitors and hours, thus allowing more time for mother and baby to nurse and bond each day.

By joining a mother-to-mother support group or meeting with a breastfeeding peer counselor, new moms are able to have supportive team members who are going through the same experiences. Healthcare providers can coach mothers in practices such as skin-to-skin care and how to make sure the baby is getting enough breastmilk. For breastfeeding support and information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline toll free at 1-877-271-MILK (6455) or visit the OSDH Breastfeeding website at



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