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TDH Promotes Workplace Support for Breastfeeding Mothers

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 | 12:08pm

World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7, 2015

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health has been helping mothers give their babies the best start in life for more than 90 years, and education and support for breastfeeding are a big part of these important efforts. TDH celebrates World Breastfeeding Week Aug. 1-7 to help promote the importance of breastfeeding as a lifesaving goal.

“When we think about how we can protect the health of a baby once she is born, breastfeeding is an optimal choice and is one of the best examples of primary prevention, something that can stop a future health issue from ever even happening in the first place,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We fully support all efforts to encourage more mothers to nurse their babies, and we urge Tennesseans to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding to help build the community of support for nursing mothers and babies in the workplace and every place.”

The theme for WBW 2015 is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!, emphasizing the importance of workplace support for breastfeeding women. Businesses that support breastfeeding reap numerous benefits including retention of experienced employees; reduction in sick time taken by both mothers and fathers for children’s illnesses; and lower health care and insurance costs. The goal of this year’s WBW is to empower and support all women working in both the formal and informal sectors to adequately combine work with child-rearing, particularly breastfeeding.

Numerous efforts are underway in Tennessee to support breastfeeding mothers. To date, more than 600 businesses have taken the “Breastfeeding Welcomed Here” pledge, indicating their support for mothers to breastfeed at their locations. Find the list of participating businesses or take the pledge at

The Tennessee Department of Health also offers the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline, 1-855-4BF-MOMS (1-855-423-6667). This toll-free hotline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week to connect breastfeeding mothers, caregivers, family members and others seeking information on breastfeeding with international board-certified lactation consultants and certified lactation counselors. TDH provides the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline in partnership with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

”The Tennessee Department of Health recognizes breastfeeding as a primary strategy for preventing poor health outcomes in mothers and babies,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP. ”We are pleased to partner with numerous public and private stakeholders to give Tennessee babies the best possible start in life by promoting and supporting breastfeeding.”

Tennessee lawmakers also support the vital practice of breastfeeding. The Tennessee General Assembly has passed laws protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in any location, public or private; prohibiting local governments from criminalizing or restricting breastfeeding; and requiring employers in Tennessee to accommodate breastfeeding mothers at work.

TDH has designated breastfeeding experts who are certified lactation counselors or international board-certified lactation consultants available in all Tennessee county health departments to provide breastfeeding services for all women. Find a list of county health departments online at

TDH also has peer counselors in 62 clinics across the state who serve WIC-eligible mothers by providing support from their own breastfeeding experiences. Peer counselors are usually women from the community who are trained to provide optimal breastfeeding support and awareness not only to mothers, but to fathers, grandparents and other members of the family’s support network. Studies have found peer counselors effectively improve rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration and exclusivity.

Many Tennessee health departments and other locations are holding activities throughout the month of August to encourage and support breastfeeding. Find a map of planned activities at

For more information on breastfeeding, visit  and the following websites: