May 13, 2022: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed six Connecticut Counties in the High/Orange category as part of its COVID-19 Community Levels Map. Only Fairfield and New London Counties are listed in the Medium/Yellow category. Residents in these counties should wear a mask indoors in public; stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. Additional precautions may be needed for residents who are at high risk for severe illness. Visit the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels Map for updates.

DPH Supports Breastfeeding Because It’s Worth It!

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It is well documented that breastfeeding provides numerous benefits to both mother and child. For this reason, the Department of Public Heath (DPH) is working to increase the number of women that choose to, or initiate breastfeeding and to reduce the barriers in the environment that cause women to stop breastfeeding before they are ready.

Through a five-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cooperative Agreement, DP13-1305 State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health, DPH is addressing three key areas to improve the breastfeeding landscape in Connecticut.

Hospitals Can Make a Difference

Implementing Practices Supportive of Breastfeeding in Birthing Facilities

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According to CDC and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data on Breastfeeding Practices, a major factor in breastfeeding success is having supportive hospital maternity care practices. Along with the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC), and its Ten Steps Collaborative, DPH directed its DP13-1305 Cooperative Agreement resources towards providing training and support to hospital staff on "The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," through an interactive train-the-trainer workshop, Connecticut Birth and Beyond in May of 2014. In 2015, DPH, CBC and Southern Connecticut State University collaborated on a series of focus groups to learn about how new parents and maternity nurses felt about the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and messages regarding evidenced-based maternity care. Based on the focus group findings, a consumer awareness campaign was developed in 2016 with the tagline, Breastfeeding: It’s Worth It! The It’s Worth It! webpage not only allows families to share their own breastfeeding experiences, but also provides an opportunity to view short videos of Connecticut parents talking about their breastfeeding journeys.

The Breastfeeding: It’s Worth It! campaign encourages families to share their success stories around 5 key themes for breastfeeding success:

  • Make a Plan (planning checklist available for hospital stay and post-discharge)
  • Skin-to-Skin contact with baby after birth
  • Rooming-in (keeping your baby in your room in the hospital)
  • Community Support
  • Make it Work (back to work/school checklist available)
Posters with photos of Connecticut moms were created based on short video stories moms shared via the It’s Worth It! website.  In 2017, through a partnership with DPH’s SNAP-Ed program newsletters (print and electronic) were developed to enhance the poster messaging.
 
Breastfeeding: It’s Worth It! campaign materials may be requested. If interested, please download and complete the It’s Worth It! materials order form. Print materials are available free of charge to Connecticut organizations. Please allow at least 4 weeks for processing.
 
For more information on projects supporting evidenced-based maternity care, please contact DPH Breastfeeding Coordinators Marilyn Lonczak at Marilyn.Lonczak@ct.gov and Lori Goeschel at Lori.Goeschel@ct.gov.

 

It Takes a Community to be Successful at Breastfeeding

Provide Access to Peer and Professional Support

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At the community level, consistent messages matter. In order to achieve consistency, DPH is partnering with a training consultant from UConn Health to provide staff at Federally Qualified Health Centers and various peer support networks such as Breastfeeding USA, Nurturing Families and La Leche League access to the Secrets of Baby Behavior training. The Secrets of Baby Behavior training was developed by the California WIC Program and UC Davis Human Lactation Center funded through a 2009 USDA WIC Special Projects grant. The training aims to assist healthcare teams in providing consistent messages to families and support people regarding infant cues, crying and sleep, with the goal of increasing exclusive breastfeeding and reducing supplementation or overfeeding of formula. 
 
For more information about Secrets of Baby Behavior or future DPH training opportunities, contact Marilyn Lonczak at Marilyn.Lonczak@ct.gov

 

Let’s Make it Work

Ensuring Worksite Compliance with State and Federal Lactation Accommodation Laws

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Returning to work should not be a barrier to breastfeeding your baby. For mothers that make the decision to breastfeed, a supportive work environment can make all the difference in breastfeeding for 6 days or 6 months, or more. This is why DPH supports the CBC’s Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program which recognizes employers that comply with both Federal and State lactation accommodation laws. 

And it’s not only the employee who benefits - it is a Win-Win-Win! Employer-Employee-Baby! Studies show that breastfed infants are sick less and have less medical costs than formula fed infants and that in general, breastfeeding mothers are absent less, more productive, and have better morale. 

See the Breastfeeding Resources/Links section below for a sample Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Toolkit, developed by the UNCAS and Ledge Light Health Districts to provide support in their communities for working mothers interested in breastfeeding. Contact DPH Breastfeeding Coordinator Marilyn Lonczak at Marilyn.Lonczak@ct.gov if you are interested in adapting this toolkit for your community.

For more information about Connecticut’s Breastfeeding laws; the Federal laws or how your worksite can apply to be recognized as Breastfeeding Friendly, go to www.breastfeedingct.org and click on the Employment and Laws on the main menu at the top of the page. 

Commissioner's Letter to Businesses Encouraging Worksite Support for Breastfeeding
 

 

Breastfeeding Resources/Links

Planning and Community

Breastfeeding Support

Make it Work

 

 Key Benefits of Breastfeeding

Infant

Developmental

  • Develops higher IQ’s
  • Improves brain and nervous system development

Emotional 

  • Improves emotional development
  • Promotes relationship and bond with mother
     
    Health  
  • Protects against stomach upsets, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, allergies, asthma, meningitis, childhood lymphoma, Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Reduces risk of childhood diabetes and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease later in life
     
    Nutritional
  • Most complete and optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies
  • Keeps pace with infant’s growth and changing nutritional needs

 Mother

Emotional 

  • Promotes emotional relationship and bonding with baby

Health

  • Reduces risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers and anemia
  • Protects against osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life
  • Helps return mom’s body to its pre-pregnancy state faster

Cost 

  • Breastmilk is free, reducing or eliminating the cost of formula
  • Breastfed babies are sick less, requiring less time off from work and reducing family healthcare costs
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