August 2013 named National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Multnomah County

August 15, 2013

Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners on Thursday declared August 2013 as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Multnomah County as a part of a proclamation sponsored by Commissioner Loretta Smith.

Community members and partners came together during the Aug. 15 board meeting to recognize the importance of breastfeeding to the health and wellness of mothers and their children.

Brittany Vuylsteke told the board that the birth of her son almost two years ago prompted her to experience many of the challenges mothers face when breastfeeding their children.

“We had a really rough start,” Vuylsteke said. “However, I received support through those challenges and it helped us to succeed in our breastfeeding, which I know will help him have the best possible start in life."

For mothers like Vuylsteke, the collective impact coordinator for the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon, breastfeeding has made all of the difference.

National Breastfeeding Awareness Month promotes research on the benefits of breastfeeding, which can reduce babies’ risk of diseases like asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding also can help mothers fight postpartum depression, and lower their chances of ovarian cancer, and even breast cancer.

Presenters along with Vuylsteke included Louisa Kaplan, public health nurse for Nurse-Family Partnership; Harmony Paul, temporary office assistant with mental health and addiction services of Future Generations Collaborative; Shafia Monroe, president and CEO of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing; Shanta Johnson, breastfeeding counselor, doula and community health worker for Multnomah County Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC); and Denise Johnson, health education coordinator with CareOregon -- many of whom are or have previously been breastfeeding mothers.

Commissioner Smith praised all the presenters efforts to help mothers and their children.

"Every mother deserves information, guidance and support on this decision from her family, and her friends, the community where she lives, the health professionals she relies on and her employer,” Smith said.

“I am proud to say that Multnomah County has heeded this call,” Smith said, noting that breastfeeding initiation rates are some of the nation’s highest with 95.9 percent of all recent mothers initiating breastfeeding after the birth of their babies.

For breastfeeding information and resources near you, visit the Multnomah County Women Infants and Children Program website