This post is part of our 2nd Annual Breastfeeding Blog Hop! Please visit the other participating blogs for more perspectives on breastfeeding. Links are provided at the bottom of our post.
Every August we celebrate National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th of August). We have a lot of fun, free activities throughout Sarasota County: Latch-On Sarasota, our Door Decorating Contest, breastfeeding displays, bake-offs, photo shoots, gatherings, and more.
What I love about this month is all the positivity and encouragement, the impactful stories that come from the moms we’ve helped. Sometimes we get so focused on how far we need to go, we forget how far we’ve come.
We’ve seen a lot of changes in breastfeeding over the last 11 years in Sarasota County. According to Florida Charts in 2004 only 67% of moms breastfed at all. Compare that to a decade later (latest stats are for 2014) where we sit at 86.7%. That’s a HUGE change in a decade.
It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. There were highs and lows. While Sarasota County has remained ahead of the state average, we experienced a significant decline in 2010. Breastfeeding initiation plummeted from a recorded high of 85% to just under 82%. The recovery was gradual but we did it, although it took four years to make it back over that hump.
We’ve also seen our businesses change the way they support their employees. In 2008, only 11% of employed moms said they were allowed to breastfeed or pump at work. With the adoption of a federal workplace breastfeeding law in 2010, that number rocketed to 50% by 2011, and finally to 62% by 2014.
How was all of this accomplished?
In October of 2009 the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County saw the need for action and rebirthed the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County (BASC). This taskforce includes organizations and individuals throughout our county – anyone and everyone who had anything to do with pregnant women and breastfeeding are welcome.
We’ve faithfully met every other month since – with an extra meeting thrown in for National Breastfeeding Month planning. Members (past and current) include: the Healthy Start Coalition, Healthy Start Program, Save My Life Program, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Florida Department of Health, Birthways Family Birthing Center, Rosemary Birthing Home, La Leche League, Lactation Love, Suncoast Lactation, private lactation providers, private citizens, students, pediatricians, area childcare providers, and other businesses. Whew!
Our goal – to provide seamless support for breastfeeding moms from birth until weaning and to normalize breastfeeding in our community. We celebrate our achievements and work together to find solutions to our community’s problems.
Each and every year we’ve proven that Sarasota County has what works: a team, a community that encourages others, and that works together to make sure our most vulnerable citizens have a healthy start. We have a long way to go, but with a dedicated group continually striving to overcome obstacles we’ve got a great foundation.
Interested in joining this fabulous taskforce? Visit us at our website, Facbeook page, or contact Jamee.firstname.lastname@example.org.
A blog hop is a series of connected blogs all discussing the same topic, in this case breastfeeding in celebration of National Breastfeeding Month. Below our blog post you’ll see links to other participating blogs (not affiliated with the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County). Click the links and see what others have to say.
*The ideas and comments expressed are those of the writers, not necessarily the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County’s.
References: http://www.floridacharts.com/charts/default.aspx; Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County Breastfeeding Survey 2008, 2011, 2014; http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/.