Elmira- The Twin Tiers Breastfeeding Network, a local breastfeeding advocacy group, will be placing a life-sized cardboard cutout of a woman breastfeeding her baby in various public places throughout the county to promote breastfeeding. The cutout will be displayed at various sites throughout the county such as government buildings, public libraries, doctor’s offices, and at local events. The cutout reads, "Promoting breastfeeding ANYTIME ANYPLACE", along with the Twin Tiers Breastfeeding Network (TTBN) logo.
The Twin Tiers Breastfeeding Network got the idea for a cut out from Southern Tier Breastfeeding Coalition in Broome County. TTBN applied for and received a grant from the NYS Breastfeeding Coalition to purchase the cutout. The Chemung County Health Dept. put out a request on their Facebook page asking for a volunteer to pose for the cutout. Local Elmira resident, Pebbles Moore and her fiancé Obed Calderon, offered to pose for the cutout with their baby, Lakelin.
Pebbles has three other children that she didn’t breastfeed. She decided to try breastfeeding with Lakelin because she had Obed’s help and support. Also, as a full time working mom she wanted to establish a strong bond with Lakelin through breastfeeding to make up for the time she would lose with her while working. She said Lakelin, who is five months old, hadn’t been sick yet whereas her other children were. Research has shown that breastfed babies are healthier along with many other benefits such as decreased chance of developing allergies, being obese, or getting asthma. Pebbles also commended Obed on his support of her decision to breastfeed. She said, “I couldn’t have done it without him!” The support of a baby's father can be the difference in a mom successfully breastfeeding. They can head off discouragement, deflect negative comments from friends and relatives, help calm a fussy baby, and bring the new mother food and drink while she is breastfeeding. Most importantly the baby's father can remind the new mother that breastfeeding is one of the most important things she can do to get their baby off to a good start in life.
TTBN urges exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of an infant's life because it can prevent a host of infant and maternal illnesses. Studies have shown the longer a mom breastfeeds the greater the benefit to both herself and the baby. In addition to getting that message across, the coalition is also spreading the word that New York law protects the rights of mothers to nurse their children in public and on the job. New York State was the first state in the nation to pass a law protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public. Nevertheless, mothers are often asked to "cover up" while nursing. Pebbles said she wanted to pose for the cutout because women shouldn’t have to hide. She said it makes it harder to breastfeed, it’s uncomfortable, and it implies that there’s something inappropriate about breastfeeding. She says breastfeeding is completely natural and if people don’t like it then they don’t have to look.
According to New York State Dept. of Health statistics only 46.5% of new mothers in Chemung County are exclusively breastfeeding when they leave the hospital. Only 14% of WIC mothers are still breastfeeding at six months. The Chemung County percentage of infants fed any breast milk in their delivery hospital is 65.3% ranking them 61st out of 62 counties in New York State. Clearly raising awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding is necessary and the new cutout will go a long way to help educate the community.
Contact Dawn Bush via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you’d like to display the cutout.