A coalition that has recently rejuvenated itself is looking to make a difference in the lives of mothers across East Central Minnesota.
The East Central Breastfeeding Coalition, serving Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Pine counties, was organized in 2009 after receiving a $1,000 grant through Women, Infants, and Children, or the WIC program. The coalition is part of the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition.
Jennifer Kroschel, chairperson of the coalition with Allina Health at Cambridge Medical Center, explained the group has reconnected the past four months and is looking to gain more exposure in the community.
The mission of the coalition is to bridge the gap by connecting health care professionals, breast-feeding families and the community.
The coalition has three goals:
• Increase initiation and duration rates.
• Advance breast-feeding knowledge and the skill base of health care professionals.
• Provide accurate resources and educational opportunities.
“We want to be a resource for moms to be supported,” explained Barb Anderson, Isanti County WIC director. “We are working on increasing our general awareness and want moms to know we are here to help them in any way we can with child care or breast-feeding topics.”
At the Isanti County Government Center in Cambridge, there are two rooms available in the WIC office, located in the lower level of Public Health, for mothers to use for breast-feeding during regular Public Health hours.
Kroschel explained the coalition is looking for more mothers to be involved in their regular coalition meetings, as well as their specific peer groups.
“We are looking to get as many mothers involved with our coalition as possible,” Kroschel said.
Anderson said the coalition aims to provide support.
“When breast-feeding mothers hit a roadblock, they may decide to give up,” Anderson said. “The coalition can provide support to that mother to help her get through that roadblock.”
Gina Kennedy, with the Pregnancy Resource Center in Cambridge, said the coalition also looks to promote the health benefits of breast-feeding.
“All of us in the health care community are concerned with the mothers’ health, as well as the health of the baby,” Kennedy said. “After a mother hits a roadblock, we can help her with how to proceed.”
Another goal of the coalition is to educate the employers in the communities about the laws associated with breast-feeding, such as, “Break Time for Nursing Mothers.”
Effective March 23, 2010, this federal law requires employers to provide break time and a place for hourly paid workers to express breast milk at work.
The law states that employers must provide a “reasonable” amount of time and that they must provide a private space other than a bathroom.
Employers are required to do this until the employee’s baby turns 1 year old.
For more information on the East Central Breastfeeding Coalition, visit www.eastcentralbreastfeeding.org.
The website also has a calendar listing of area meetings associated with the coalition, as well as area breast-feeding classes.
Children who are not exclusively breast-fed for six months have a greater chance of the following health problems:
z 60 percent more likely to suffer from ear infections.
z 40 percent more likely to get Type 1 diabetes.
z 40 percent more likely to get Type 2 diabetes as an adult.
z 25 percent more likely to become overweight or obese.
z 30 percent more likely to suffer from leukemia.
z 25 percent more likely to be hospitalized for respiratory diseases like pneumonia or asthma.
z 200 percent more likely to have diarrhea.
— Information provided by the East Central Breastfeeding Coalition
Who Can You Call for Breast-feeding Support?
Cambridge Medical Center
Fairview Lakes Birthplace
First Light Health System
National Breastfeeding Helpline
Minnesota WIC Breast-feeding Referral Line