The Breastfeeding Coalition of Covington met recently to discuss ways the community might better support breastfeeding mothers at Covington and Newton County businesses.
Members of the newly formed organization held an event, "Breastfeeding Awareness on the Covington Square," at Amici’s Nov. 22. Holley Freeman, one of the organizers, said a recent disagreement between a local business owner and a nursing mom prompted formation of the group. Freeman said the group just wants the community to be more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, for infants and moms.
"You don’t have to worry about having to pay for formula for a lot of kids; it makes a lot of kids healthier, so hospital bills are lessened," Freeman said. "It’s great for moms because it reduces ovarian and breast cancer incidences. So, it’s just an overall health issue and we just want to make more parents, not only moms, but dads, too, and uncles and grandmothers, just aware of what breastfeeding does for everybody."
Freeman also noted that breastfeeding helps mothers and infants bond.
She said the bond "is an intimate one, but it’s something that you just can’t keep at home, you know. We are going to breastfeed in public, and people are going to do it in a manner that is easiest for them and their child."
Tiffany Whitworth, a clinical psychologist with Southeastern Psychological Associates, offered her support at the meeting. Whitworth said she works with groups like The Breastfeeding Coalition of Covington to help them access resources about health issues such as breastfeeding.
"One of the biggest barriers … is social stigma about breastfeeding. And that’s one of the cheapest ones to change. So, just by changing norms about where, how and when it’s OK to breastfeed, and making feeding infants just as much a part of a normal routine as feeding everybody else, we can really help make a difference," Whitworth said.
According to the 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in Georgia 68.2 percent of mothers breastfeed; 31.8 percent of mothers breastfeed when their child is 6 months old; and 12.9 percent of mothers breastfeed their child at a year old.
Freeman said The Breastfeeding Coalition of Covington’s main focus is awareness.
"We really want to make the local businesses aware of the laws for breastfeeding and just let them know how they can actually support breastfeeding mothers," Freeman said. "Then we also want to do some community outreach to different woman to give them different information about breastfeeding, facts about it. A lot of breastfeeding moms start out breastfeeding, but by the time their child is about 3 or 6 months old, (they stop). So we really want to help women breastfeed as long as possible."