Today, state Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus), a member of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC), recognized the month of August as National Breastfeeding Month and Aug. 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week to promote public awareness and support for breastfeeding.
“More than 85% of women will become mothers at some point in their working lives. Pregnant women who continue working are generating income and stability for their families,” Maharath said. “When pregnant women are fired because of their pregnancy or are improperly accommodated by being asked to go home for any period of time during their pregnancy, they and their families lose critical income. They may also struggle to re-enter a job market that is often unforgiving to new mothers.”
Breastfeeding is beneficial to both mothers and infants and the benefits may be significantly greater for minority women and babies, who are disproportionately affected by adverse health outcomes.
There are numerous barriers to breastfeeding, such as pain/discomfort, embarrassment, workplace accommodation and inconvenience. Additionally, there are unique obstacles that affect racial or ethnic minority women, including a lack of social and cultural acceptance or support, language and literacy barriers, lack of maternal access to information that promotes and supports breastfeeding, acculturation and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use.
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet.” The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are calling on governments to protect and promote women's access to skilled breastfeeding counseling, a critical component of breastfeeding support.
The OBMHC has introduced several bills to promote women’s access to breastfeeding services, including:
“I introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the Senate last year because we must improve workplace accommodations throughout Ohio to make sure that every working mother can continue to work and support her family while caring for her baby,” Maharath said.