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OUR VIEW: Breastfeeding at businesses should be welcomed

Mitchell is attempting to be more friendly to breastfeeding mothers. And we say, what took so long? In conjunction with August's national breastfeeding month, the South Dakota Department of Health and the Davison County Community Health Office ha...

Mitchell is attempting to be more friendly to breastfeeding mothers.

And we say, what took so long?

In conjunction with August's national breastfeeding month, the South Dakota Department of Health and the Davison County Community Health Office have partnered to begin a community-wide breastfeeding friendly business initiative.

The initiative's goal is to have businesses sign a breastfeeding friendly pledge, which indicates they will provide a welcoming environment for mothers.

Sure, it's not much - just a pledge, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

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As a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed in March 2010, break time for nursing mothers became a requirement for businesses.

The law states employers are required to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth. Employers are also required to provide a place that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. Most importantly, that place must be an area other than a bathroom.

Again, we're happy an initiative is in place this month to help make positive steps, but why has it taken six-plus years following the Affordable Care Act to get this going in our city and throughout South Dakota?

Working mothers shouldn't have to feel uncomfortable about taking time to pump for their child. According to the Centers for Disease Control Breastfeeding Report Card from 2014, which is the most recent report available, South Dakota is under the national average for children who were ever breastfed. That could be because some businesses have not created a friendly environment to allow mothers to nurse.

It's important to remember breast milk contains antibodies that help fight and prevent bacteria and viruses. It's been associated with lower rates of childhood obesity and mortality, and has been linked to lower allergies and asthma in older children. The CDC has named breastfeeding a national priority.

We encourage businesses in our city to be leaders, allowing working mothers to nurse, and allowing mothers who patronize the business an area to use.

During this initiative, a local breastfeeding counselor and other officials will be going door to door downtown to spread the word about business friendly breastfeeding.

Take the time to sign up, and then follow through.

Related Topics: OUR VIEWHEALTH
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