AKRON, Ohio — Akron Children's Hospital is on a mission to make local businesses more breastfeeding friendly to help promote health and safety in infants in Northeast Ohio.
Babies who are breastfed or are fed expressed breast milk are at lower risk, around 50% less likely, for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, compared to babies who were never fed breast milk, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The hospital notes the benefits of breastfeeding for infants, in correlation with safe sleep practices and a smoke-free environment, can help keep babies safe, but with 80% of parents discontinuing breastfeeding after returning to work, the hospital is working to lesson that percentage.
Akron Children's Hospital is making a concerted effort to help make Northeast Ohio businesses more breastfeeding friendly by creating or revising company lactation policies to meet or exceed the federal law, giving businesses feedback on designated spaces for expressing breast milk and providing resources for employees to distribute information on lactation consultation resources in the area.
The hospital received funding from the Ohio Department of Health to help drive their mission to create more breastfeeding friendly local businesses.
“We know that breastfeeding provides health benefits for both the infant and the breastfeeding employee,” said Cesley Hayes, Injury Prevention Specialist, ODH Safe Sleep at Akron Children’s. “However, a lot of businesses don’t have a formal breastfeeding policy in place and try to create one on a case-by-case basis after a parent returns from leave. Having a formal policy in place helps support the lactating person and protect the employee and the business.”
Akron Children's Hospital has already seen their efforts begin to have an impact.
This spring, the hospital began reaching out to 25 businesses and organizations in Summit County, with 12 employers being educated on the importance of breastfeeding and how lactation policies at the workplace can help parents continue to breastfeed.
By the end of September, the hospital reported six businesses adopted new written lactation policies on breastfeeding, including City of Akron, Akron METRO RTA, Greenleaf Family Center, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and United Way of Summit and Medina Behavioral Health Group.
In addition to changing their policies, the businesses that consulted with Akron Children's Hospital also received return to work toolkits that included an insulted cooler for milk storage, ice packs, hand sanitzer and resource guides for lactation consultation and other services.
The hospital said it continues to receive funding from ODH to continue helping businesses reshape their breastfeeding policies into next year.
To learn more on how a business can create a breastfeeding policy, or to learn more about lactation support, contact Cesley Hayes at email@example.com or 330-543-5419.
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