From left are LVN Jana McDowell, RDA Jessica Coelho and RN Dorrie Philbeck, along with Plumas County Public Health Agency Director Andrew Woodruff. Woodruff introduced a resolution on joining the nation in observance of World Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Photo by Victoria Metcalf

Got MILC? Supervisors join Public Health, WIC in resolution observing World Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Plumas

It’s important that mothers know and understand the importance of breastfeeding their babies for the first year of life and beyond, explained Katy Dyrr as presentations were made before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Dyrr, as longtime director of the Plumas County WIC program, (Women, Infants and Children),was one of those to speak in support of supervisors adopting a resolution in favor of World Breastfeeding Awareness Month throughout August.

Dyrr also addressed supervisors as a member of MILC (the Mountain Interagency Lactation Coalition), a breastfeeding support service group for Plumas, Lassen, Modoc and Sierra counties.

Andrew Woodruff, director of the Plumas County Health Agency, kicked off presentations to the Board of Supervisors, “National Breastfeeding Awareness month encourages mothers around the world to choose to exclusively breastfeed when possible,” he said.

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While a large proportion of mothers begin breastfeeding their child, many don’t continue to do so. The reasons vary and can include work, time constraints and stress. They all contribute to breastfeeding abandonment, Woodruff explained.

Breastfeeding Awareness Month endorses solutions for the very reasons some mothers choose to stop. “Devoting an entire month to breastfeeding awareness is a great way to show how breastfeeding positively affects mothers and children around the world,” according to Woodruff.

Just a few of the reasons why mothers should consider breastfeeding include babies breastfed for at least six months are more likely to be healthier children. It also primes the immune system, promotes bonding and leads to fewer respiratory infections, Woodruff said. There is also a smaller chance of obesity and fewer ear infections.

And there are many other benefits.

MILC’s mission is that breastfeeding will become the norm in Plumas County, Dyrr said.

In an effort to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed their babies, Dyrr and nurses from public health are encouraging businesses to make space for such activities.

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Supervisor Lori Simpson said that she thought it was a state law that businesses and agencies have to provide a place for the mother and her baby. And that can’t be a bathroom stall, they agreed.

Some businesses and agencies are fully on board with the services. Others can get information concerning accommodations at WIC, from public health or from the internet.

Currently 26 percent of the mothers in Plumas County breastfeed their babies, Dyrr explained. While that might not seem like enough, the state average is just 16 percent.

Assistance with the process and education begins with nurses and referrals, but those at WIC and public health are available to assist mothers adjust to the process.

“These ladies do fabulous work,” Simpson said.

The resolution

Some of the information included in the resolution adopted by the Board of Supervisors follows:

All major medical authorities recommend that mothers breastfeed and yet the numbers continue to fall.

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It is less expensive to breastfeed. Breast milk provides everything that a baby needs until it is ready to supplement its diet with food.

Recent research estimates that upwards of $18.5 billion in health care and premature death-related expenses could be saved each year if 90 percent of women were to meet breastfeeding recommendations.

Breastfeeding also provides a safe, reliable and renewable food source.

Employers that support breastfeeding at work see a return on their investment. Studies show lower health care costs, less absenteeism and turnover rates and improved morale, among other reasons.