Heidi Russell, COBA’s executive director.

Governor Kevin Stitt proclaimed August “Oklahoma Breastfeeding Month,” culminating the Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates’ (COBA) month-long celebration of National Breastfeeding Month. “We know that breast milk provides the essential nutrition and immune protection an infant needs that first year of life. We thank Governor Stitt for joining our efforts as we applaud the thousands of Oklahoma families who make the daily commitment to give their child the best foundation for growth and development,” says Heidi Russell, COBA’s executive director. (story continues below)

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COBA joined other breastfeeding coalitions throughout the country with activities that focused on this year’s theme “Together We Do Great Things” and for the third consecutive year hosted its Breastfeeding Conversations Series releasing a new video each week featuring local mothers, health experts and lactation leaders. Videos demonstrated the unique yet encompassing month-long celebration highlighting World Breastfeeding Week, Indigenous Milk Medicine Week, Asian American Native Hawaii Pacific Islander Week, and Black Breastfeeding Week.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend women begin breastfeeding their children within one hour of birth and continue exclusively for the first six months of a child’s life. Becky Mannel, COBA’s chair and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, says the significant benefits breastfeeding offers for both mom and baby are numerous. “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding lowers an infant’s risk of acute and chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, childhood cancers, SIDS and GI and respiratory infections. Mothers experience a reduced risk of reproductive cancers, heart disease, diabetes, not to mention the special bonding time mothers enjoy with their babies,” says Mannel.
Although most infants receive some breast milk, most are not exclusively breastfed or continue to breastfeed as long as recommended. In Oklahoma, 1 in 5 women who choose not to breastfeed cite returning to work and/or school as the reason. Oklahoma workplaces and employers have an opportunity to change these statistics by adopting policies that make it easier for women to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s “Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Recognition” program currently acknowledges 380 workplaces throughout the state that proudly support breastfeeding employees.
Families with questions about breastfeeding may contact the free Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline at 1-877-271-6455 (MILK) or Text OK2BF to 61222