Breastfeeding awareness event held


By Alixandria Wells-Good

Contributing writer

August is National Breastfeeding Month. Countless organizations recognize Aug. 1-7 as “World Breastfeeding Week” and the whole month of August as “National Breastfeeding Month.” According to the “WIC Works” website through the USDA, this year, World Breastfeeding Week’s theme was “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents.” The following weeks’ themes are: Aug. 8-14 Indigenous Milk Medicine Week, Aug. 15-21 Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week, and Aug. 25-31 Black Breastfeeding Week, and new this year is the week of Sept 5-11 Lactancia Latina.

You may be wondering what this has to do with you. Well, chances are it has a lot to do with you, whether you know it or not. Chances are, you were breastfed at one point. Or your children were breastfed, or you know someone who has/does/will breastfeed. According to data from the CDC, in the United States from 1986-88 54% of mothers breastfed their babies from birth, and the number slowly grew over the years, to 73% of mothers from 2002-2004. The most up to date data states that from 2021 to 2022, 83% of infants were breastfed at one point, but only 25% are exclusively breastfed at 6 months old.

Mixed in with important scientific data, you will also find studies that show why women stop breastfeeding, or don’t breastfeed at all. The overwhelming answer: lack of support. Along with lack of knowledge/education, social pressures, and other reasons, many mothers are not breastfeeding at all, or not for very long. This is one of the reasons why we have National Breastfeeding Month, and why it very much so concerns you. Whether you’re a breastfeeding mother or not. The opportunity will likely arise for you, whoever you are, to support a mother on her breastfeeding journey. So take this time now to educate yourself, grow in your acceptance of mothers nursing their babies around you/in public, and familiarize yourself with local resources so you can be of aide if the need arises.

There are countless scientifically proven benefits to breastfeeding. One can spend just a few minutes online and find benefit after benefit. A few noteworthy or interesting facts are: -According to the Cleveland Clinic, breastfed babies are at lower risk for things such as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), childhood obesity, diabetes (later in life), respiratory infections, childhood leukemia, among other things.

-The Cleveland Clinic also states that breast milk contains antibodies that protect against infection and boost immunity, and that breast milk actually changes in composition to meet your baby’s nutritional needs over time.

-Breastmilk also lowers a mother’s risk for a lot of things, like postpartum depression, and lowers risks for diseases such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more later in life, according to many sources.

If that’s not enough to convince you on the importance of breastfeeding, it’s known to be an incredible bonding experience for both baby and mother and has shown mental health benefits for both as well. But despite all of these benefits, many babies are still not breastfed past 6 months, some not at all.

Despite breastfeeding being a ‘natural’ way to feed a baby, it can prove difficult for many women, for many different reasons. Many of those reasons come down to lack of education and support. Women are often expected (even by themselves) to instinctively know how to breastfeed a child. But as with many things about becoming a mother, sometimes it takes a lot more effort for mothers and babies than what. This is where proper education and support systems come in to assist.

There are many online resources and supports available to any and all breastfeeding women seeking it. Kellymom, La Leche League are popular websites for information, and there are even brands such as Haakaa, The Little Milk Bar, and more that offer support, community, and free education. Many lactation consultants and other professions have social media pages that can be good places to find free information. There is an Ohio statewide breastfeeding hotline that can be reached 24/7. According to, lactation professionals can be reached via phone at 888-588-3423, or by texting BFHOTLINE to 839863.

Locally, the Champaign County WIC (Women, Infants, and Children program) office is an important resource for breastfeeding mothers. The WIC ‘breastfeeding peer’ can provide breastfeeding education to anyone, regardless if they are enrolled in WIC or not. On staff is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, which can also provide breastfeeding help to anyone. According to Candice Myers, the WIC Program Director, they are also beginning to work with local businesses to “help them become more breastfeeding friendly”. She stated that the Ohio Department of Health offers a recognition award for businesses who partake in the program.

Sycamore House, located in Urbana, offers prenatal education. They are also working with local WIC offices to soon bring breastfeeding classes to their facility. Sycamore House can be found at 647 Bodey Circle, Urbana, OH, United States, Ohio, and reached at (937) 653-3737.

Help Me Grow is a system of support for pregnant women, caregivers with new babies, and families with young children with developmental delays and disabilities. The program has a nurse Family Partnership program, where a nurse comes to participants homes to educate parents prenatally. The Champaign County Help Me Grow program can be reached at (937) 612-3322.

In a statement from our local WIC office regarding National Breastfeeding Month, they stated “Just as everyone in society benefits from breastfeeding, everyone should contribute to making breastfeeding/providing human milk accessible to ensure a healthy future for Champaign County residents.”


I had my first child in Texas at a birthing center. I remember my first time attending the postpartum support group they hold and feeling so anxious when my son started to cry to be fed. But not a single look or care was given as I nursed my baby in front of all of these mothers. Someone offered a pillow for my arm, and another offered to grab me a snack. It was really the first time I’d breastfed in public, but my nerves melted away. The acceptance, care, and support I felt in this room carried me through many future public nursing sessions (and there were many, I had a very hungry baby!). I remember continuously gaining confidence and pride in what I was doing, in this choice I was making for me and my baby. Months later, at another postpartum group I attended there, I sat cross legged on the floor and without a thought laid my baby in my lap and nursed him while I cradled his head. I remember another mom with a fresh newborn saying ‘I can’t wait for it to be that easy!’ And I realized: now I was the encouragement. I could be the one that reminded a mother that it gets easier, you’re strong, you’re doing something beautiful, and even just that it’s okay to nurse your baby wherever and whenever. I could do all that simply by being brave and being true to myself, and my baby’s needs. That was 2019/2022. And now, as I nurse my second baby, 18 months and counting, I still feel that way. All this, simply by being in a room full of supportive, accepting people in the beginning of my journey.

We as a community should be rallying with mothers who are choosing to breastfeed their babies. The way someone chooses to feed their baby is just that: their choice. And we can show support and acceptance in many ways. If you’re unsure about these ways, please keep reading! I encourage you to educate yourself and your family on the benefits of breastfeeding, both physical and emotional health for baby and mother. A huge way we can show acceptance is by simply going about your business when you see a nursing mother. There’s no need to offer help or assistance, unless you feel inclined to do so. But by simply letting a mother be, allowing her to feed her baby in a safe, normal, and judgment-free environment is one of the biggest supports we can all offer.

In support of National Breastfeeding Month and to help raise awareness, support, and acceptance, local breastfeeding women shared their stories and advice.

Amanda Gaffga shared: “I teach at the elementary, and I breastfed my baby for 14 months (stopped over the summer) so all of last school year I was pumping at work. It was such a team effort to have coverage for my breaks, 3 different teachers split up the “duty” of covering my class, I borrowed 4 different offices and only was walked in on once! But it was so cool how all these women came together to help me continue feeding my baby being a working mom.”

Evelyn Oiler shared: “I was at a local restaurant and didn’t have a way to cover up. There weren’t many people at the restaurant, however I still thought I’d need to so I purchased one of their shirts. A couple noticed and was super nice and engaging and made me feel super comfortable about needing to feed my baby. Everyone around me didn’t make me feel judged or awkward for having to feed her.”

Charity Ford shared: “I breastfed for 18 months. I was an older mom (37) and I have PCOS – pregnancy and motherhood were a HUGE surprise! Because of PCOS, I had a 1/3 shot at enough milk, not enough milk, or too much. Happily, it was just right. While I was breastfeeding, I took my mom to chemotherapy treatments and took my “dairy farm” (breast pump) with me. I used a nursing cover, and people came and went from mom’s room, most none the wiser. It was rather funny! I breastfeed in public outdoors for the first time at the Pony Washing Days Parade in St. Paris when my daughter was 8 months old, the same night mom “came out” – she removed her head covering in public for the 1st time because it was so hot. She was bald from chemo. We were quite a pair! I really enjoyed our time breastfeeding. I’m still not sure if it was her idea or mine to stop around 18 months. It was so painless and perfect!”

Erica L. Herron: “After 3 kids, breastfeeding 2 of them I thought I knew it all, until I had my 4th and struggled tremendously with breastfeeding. My lactation nurse was awesome and we finally got it when he was 10 weeks old. So thankful for the help I had, my Mom was very supportive also.”

When posed the following questions, mothers who are breastfeeding or have breastfed had these responses:

What is something you wish people in the community knew about breastfeeding?

-Cecilia Davis “I think I wish people knew about breastfeeding and even [that] breast milk is so useful [for other things]. Not only does it feed the baby but you can use it on scrapes/cuts on the skin, clogged tear ducts or even eczema.”

-Magdaline Crain: “I wish people knew the amount of work that goes into breastfeeding. the long hours, the patience, the commitment, the frustrations, the tears, the pain. I also wish people understood that breastfeeding is not free.”

Kara Atterholt: “Breastfeeding is a job in itself. On average, roughly 1,800 hours a year are spent latched or attached to a pump, which is just shy of the average amount of hours worked at a full time job. New laws in place ensure that breastfeeding mothers have the right to pump at work but we need to see more empathy for these mamas and less hassle.”

Kristin Bailey: I fully support anyone that wants to breastfeed. In the hospital there is what we call the Golden Hour. That is actually the first two hours after birth. Being skin to skin with the mother is so important for establishing breastfeeding. The baby usually nurses for a long time and nurses well, it sets the precedent for breastfeeding and teaches the baby what to do. We tell moms all the time to be patient… to know how much the baby weighs or to pass the baby around isnt nearly as important as getting breastfeeding established. Less visitors in the hospital are better. During covid when visitors were restricted our breastfeeding rates were through the roof! They decreased again some when the hospital started allowing unlimited visitors. That one on one time at the beginning is so very important

What is something you would say to a new breastfeeding mom?

Cecilia Davis: “Basically, it’s okay if someone’s breastfeeding journey is short or isn’t what they expected. Everyone’s story is unique.”

Magdaline Crain: “Do not be afraid to ask for help. Chances are someone else who is/has breastfed experienced the same or something similar to you. You are not alone!”

Erica L. Herron: “You are never alone, there are tons of resources available, even if you don’t know anyone who is/has breastfed, reach out on social media, ask your Healthcare provider, many insurances cover lactation counseling from a certified lactation specialist.”

Ashlee Lenette: “There are a lot of people you can talk to and reach out to. Don’t think you’re alone in this journey, because it is that, A JOURNEY!”

Kristin Bailey: Breast milk is so important. FED is best if there’s a reason a mom really can’t breastfeed. But breastfeeding is HARD work, it takes true dedication and commitment. It has to be something the mom 100% wants to do. The first two weeks are the hardest by far, but sticking with it gets much much easier. It decreases the risk for GI issues, cancer, diabetes and so much more, not only for baby but for the mom too! A study was done back in 2010 that shows breast milk actually helped to kill cancer cells! Its amazing!

Betsy Ross: No two breastfeeding experiences are the same. Just because it went hard/easy for one kid, doesn’t mean it will for the next. You have to go into each one with the mindset of we will figure it out. Both mom and baby need practice at it. Also, don’t be shamed into doing it longer or shorter than you feel is right. You are mom and you know what is right for your situation.

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