“We encourage mothers to breastfeed,” said Patricia Fralick, Director of Family & Community Health Services for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “ Only breast milk contains all the nutrients that growing babies need. And we encourage family members, co-workers, and community residents to support breastfeeding moms.”
In a unique funding agreement, Health Department staff are working together with MSU Extension offices and local hospitals in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties to support new moms who decide to breastfeed. A breastfeeding peer support counselor is on-call 24 hours a day in each of the four counties to help and support new breastfeeding moms by answering questions and providing encouragement.There are ways we can all help family members and friends who are breastfeeding, according to the International Lactation Consultation Association.
Recent studies show that babies who are exclusively breastfed until they are six months old are less likely to develop a range of infectious diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory illnesses, and have fewer hospitalizations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, some studies suggest babies who are breastfed have lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Older children who were breastfed have lower rates of diabetes, certain types of cancer, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol, and asthma.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information about breastfeeding, contact your health care provider or local Health Department office. For additional information about the Breastfeeding Awareness Walk, contact Danica Howard, Emmet County Breastfeeding Counselor, at 231-330-6139.