Mayor Dwight C. Jones received the final report of the Breastfeeding Commission today from the commission he created in July of 2011. The Breastfeeding Commission was created to provide recommendations on ways to increase the number of women breastfeeding, particularly among underserved and fragile women in Richmond, where participation is well below the state average. Over the course of the Commission’s work, state officials recognized the city as the first locality in Virginia to establish a breastfeeding commission and for bringing together businesses, government and healthcare advocates to encourage women - especially low-income mothers - to breastfeed.
“I would like to thank Dr. Stephanie Ferguson and the other members of this diverse group of individuals for their diligence in creating recommendations to aid my administration in increasing the number of breastfeeding mothers in the city of Richmond,” said Mayor Jones. “The Commission has recommended a comprehensive, coordinated, collaborative, sustainable breastfeeding program for Richmond families. Their recommendations are impactful and sound, and will be of great benefit to all families, particularly our most vulnerable. At the level of city government, we have already taken action in establishing two lactation rooms to support our employees and I believe the work of this commission will help many others find ways to support this effort.”
The Breastfeeding Commission’s report not only highlights barriers to breastfeeding, it provides information regarding the commission’s structure and activities, relevant research related to federal and state initiatives, benefits of breastfeeding and a detailed review of breastfeeding among minority women. It also examines the current state of breastfeeding in Richmond.
The Breast Feeding Commission’s final report includes the following recommendations:
- Encourage Health Systems to adopt the 10 Steps of the Baby Friendly Hospital
- Support and encourage Richmond city businesses to develop and implement comprehensive lactation support programs for their employees and patrons.
- Promote partnerships and education among care providers who come into contact with mothers, fathers, partners, and families before, during, and after childbirth, and during the infant’s first year of life.
- Develop an Education/Marketing Strategy.
Mayor Jones expressed his gratitude for the work of the Commission and also noted that progress has already begun in several areas related to breastfeeding:
- In April 2012, the Richmond City
Department of Social Services’ Richmond Healthy Start Initiative (RHSI) in
partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
received an award for their proposed community engagement project entitled, Barriers
and Facilitators to Breastfeeding among Low-Income African-American Women in
Richmond, Virginia. Funding will be used to conduct breastfeeding
community forums to hear directly from mothers about their experiences and
expectations feeding their babies. The potential research findings from the
community forums could position the city to be the beneficiary of long-term
breastfeeding funding from major organizations including the National
Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control.
- In May 2012, RHSI and the Faces of
Hope, a local non-profit dedicated to fighting childhood obesity, received a
grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth to establish The Richmond Health Action Alliance. The
Alliance will develop a comprehensive plan to prevent and control childhood
obesity by promoting breastfeeding among new mothers and increasing physical
activity among youngsters.
- RHSI and Breastfeeding Commission members participated in the world wide Big Latch-On campaign on August 4, 2012. The event, designed to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, was a tremendous success. RHSI, which works with low-income pregnant women along with representatives from the three hospital systems in Richmond, HCA, Bon Secours, and VCU Health System, joined forces to coordinate the Richmond Big Latch On at the state capitol. More than 100 people attended the event in which almost 50 Mothers breastfed.