PARK HILLS — It is as old as humankind, but has gone in and out of “fashion” and is often not talked about at all.
Area breastfeeding moms want others to realize that how they feed their babies is natural, healthy and considered by many doctors to be the best nourishment for the children. On Saturday, nursing mothers will participate in an international event to raise worldwide awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. At 10 a.m. in Columbia Park in Park Hills, they will gather in the park and at 10:30 a.m., they will feed their babies at the same moment mothers around the world are doing the same thing.
The event is the Quintessence Foundation’s Global Breastfeeding Challenge and is part of Canada’s World Breastfeeding Week celebration. The goal is to set a record for the most infants and children breastfeeding at one time. Last year, 7,632 children participated in 19 countries at more than 300 sites. Supporters in the event numbered more than 20,000.
Winners of the competition will include the site with the most children breastfeeding, the country with the most children breastfeeding at registered sites of participation and the country with the most sites.
The Feeding our Future Breastfeeding Task Force will sponsor the Park Hills event as well as one in Hillsboro Municipal Park in Jefferson County. Refreshments will be served and there will be games and door prizes for those who attend. Information on breastfeeding will be available.
“This is a chance to get the right information out,” Task Force President Jessica Crepps said. “There is a great need for support in the breastfeeding community. Lots of people want to breastfeed and give their babies the best, but don’t have the support to back them.”
The task force is a partnership with members from St. Francois, Washington, Madison, Ste. Genevieve and Jefferson counties. Its goal is to organize, educate and disseminate up-to-date breastfeeding information to help women successfully breastfeed their children.
“One of the most common hurdles for mothers to continue (breastfeeding) is a lack of support by friends, family and their community,” Crepps explained. “In the U.S., this lack of support is demonstrated as many women find breastfeeding in public a major barrier.”
Among its goals, the task force is working to ensure that working mothers and young mothers who are still in school have private places to pump milk for their children. That helps students stay in school and gives mothers who have to work the choice to continue breastfeeding when their maternity leave ends, she added.
During the global challenge, members of the task force will be available to answer questions.
Common reasons for not breastfeeding include a lack of information, a busy lifestyle, or a concern that fathers are left out. Tips for incorporating breastfeeding into a hectic lifestyle are available from the Task Force. Fathers can still participate in feeding if the mom pumps breast milk so dad can bottle feed it to the baby, or dad can burp the baby during nursing breaks, Crepps suggested.
For more information about the Challenge or breastfeeding in general, call Crepps at 573-535-8725 or e-mail her at CreppJ@lpha.mopublic.org. Feeding Our Other information also is available on Facebook or at http://www.washingtoncountyhealthdepartment.org.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.