For more information, contact Katie Anderson, (509) 324-1515 or kanderson@srhd.org


SPOKANE, Wash. –  Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) announced today that during the week of Aug. 1-7, 2019, it will again celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event that draws attention to the positive health impacts of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers.

On Friday, Aug. 2, breastfeeding mothers and supporters are welcome to join breastfeeding peer counselors and other staff from the health district’s Women, Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program at a Big Latch On event. The event will be held at approximately 10:15 a.m. at the Spokane Valley SRHD WIC located at 12213 E. Broadway.

During the Big Latch On event, Spokane’s breastfeeding mothers will nurse their children simultaneously with moms from all around the world. The Big Latch On helps focus international attention on communities’ efforts to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion. Local WIC staff will also give away World Breastfeeding Week gifts and hold prize drawings.

This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme, Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding was chosen to be inclusive of both mothers and fathers in today’s world. Focusing on supporting both parents to be empowered is vital in order to realize breastfeeding goals.

“Breastfeeding mothers need the support of the community and their families to continue breastfeeding for at least six months for optimal health benefits to both mother and baby,” said Teresa Kafentzis, SRHD WIC program manager. “Mothers can be supported directly with access to mother-to-mother breastfeeding peers; but less direct support, like workplaces that encourage breastfeeding and public places that strive to make breastfeeding women feel comfortable, can provide a huge sense of support and encouragement as well.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, both babies and mothers gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Human milk provides the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Breast milk is easy to digest and offers breastfeeding infants protection against bacterial and viral infections. Research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.

According to the most recent data, 93.5 percent of infants in Spokane County are initially breastfed at birth. While impressive, this number doesn’t address the whole picture. The percentage of women exclusively breastfeeding drops substantially within the first six months as many women choose to begin supplementing with formula. Through peer support and education, WIC is working to encourage breastfeeding mothers to extend the duration of exclusive breastfeeding through six months. 

“When breastfeeding women are adequately supported through encouragement and education, babies, mothers and the community benefit,” continued Kafentzis. “Healthier children have fewer sick days, so their parents miss work less often and the children have fewer visits to their doctors.”

Worldwide, more than 170 countries celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Health agencies like SRHD organize activities to help spread awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and the risks of not breastfeeding.

The SRHD WIC Program works to empower breastfeeding women in Spokane County by providing breastfeeding education and support from the prenatal through the postpartum period. Through the program, mothers work with breastfeeding peer counselors who provide individual, one-on-one guidance and group classes.

In addition to the health district’s WIC program and its support of breastfeeding moms, SRHD developed a Worksite Wellness toolkit that offers tips for breastfeeding-supportive workplaces. The health district also has a Wellness Committee that includes worksite breastfeeding support as one of its initiatives.

For more information about SRHD’s support of World Breastfeeding Week or its planned activities, contact Kristine Brewer, WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Lead, (509) 323-2806 or kbrewer@srhd.org.

For more information and ideas for how to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2019, visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org. Information about WIC and SRHD can be found at srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips or follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.