Support breast-feeding in Missoula, world

2011-08-05T08:15:00Z Support breast-feeding in Missoula, worldGuest column by JANEL CHIN, JENNIFER HUDSON and REBECCA MORLEY

Many people are aware of the numerous environmental, health and financial benefits when mothers breast-feed their babies. Yet barriers to successful breast-feeding remain and few mothers breast-feed exclusively for six months as the American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization and American Public Health Association recommend.

In January 2011, the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding was released, stating, "Given the importance of breast-feeding for the health and well-being of mothers and children, it is critical that we take action across the country to support breast-feeding." Community Medical Center, the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition and La Leche League of Missoula are all launching new initiatives to educate and support mothers who wish to breast-feed.

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7), La Leche League of Missoula and the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition welcome community input on how to best support breast-feeding in Missoula. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the Innocenti Declaration, the WHO/UNICEF document outlining global benefits and goals for breast-feeding.

This year, the U.S. has chosen "Talk to me! Breastfeeding - a 3D Experience" as its World Breastfeeding Week theme, focusing on communication between various sectors. Most important, the theme aims to highlight how the mother/baby breast-feeding dyad can be an essential beginning of lifelong healthy communication. La Leche League of Missoula, in collaboration with the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition, will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with an information tent and raffle at the farmers market on August 6.

The Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition is dedicated to breast-feeding support and education in the Missoula community. In May, the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition hosted a conference providing more than 70 nurses, lactation consultants and other professionals with breast-feeding information and continuing education credits. This summer, the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition will offer mothers comfortable places to breast-feed during many outdoor community events.

To expand the network of breast-feeding support, Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition initiated the Missoula Breastfeeding Friendly Business Campaign, whose decals are displayed in the windows of approximately 200 Missoula-area businesses. If you are a business owner, community member, breast-feeding mother or family member wishing to support breast-feeding, contact Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition president Mary Strand at 406-258-3829 regarding membership or for questions. Visit the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition Web site at

La Leche League International is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, volunteer organization whose mission is to help mothers worldwide to breast-feed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, education, and to promote a better understanding of breast-feeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. La Leche League International recently accredited three new leaders in Missoula.

La Leche League International leaders are mothers who have breast-fed at least one of their own children for a minimum of one year and are familiar with common breast-feeding concerns and questions. Missoula leaders commonly help mothers with initial latch issues, challenges related to infant growth spurts, pumping, returning to work, increasing milk supply, adding solids or weaning. Leaders are not only educated about the most recent research related to breast-feeding, but are trained to listen to common (and less common) maternal concerns, companion mother through any breast-feeding issues and offer pertinent written materials, referring mothers for more help if necessary.

In addition to holding twice-monthly meetings and 24/7 email and phone support to breast-feeding mothers, the local Missoula group provides a free lending library with the latest information on breast-feeding, nutrition, weaning and related parenting issues. All breast-feeding moms or those interested in breast-feeding are encouraged to attend meetings. Meetings provide a chance to learn about breast-feeding and to meet and connect with other mothers. Babies and children are always welcome at meetings.

La Leche League of Missoula hopes to increase cooperation with other community entities to reach more mothers. Towards this goal, La Leche League of Missoula recently coordinated a panel of mothers to present on the topic of "extended breast-feeding" at the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition's May conference.

Please feel free to contact La Leche League of Missoula at with questions or comments.

Janel Chin and Jennifer Hudson are La Leche League leaders; Rebecca Morley is a member of the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition.


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