By Guy Page
As Vermont observes World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7 with informational programs in Brattleboro, Springfield and White River Junction, infant baby formula is still in short supply at local pharmacies due to the global supply chain crisis.
A Wednesday morning stop at a Washington County CVS showed just one container of baby infant formula for sale on the display floor – a generic “store brand.” Display advertising urged consumers to ask for supplies kept behind the front desk. There, only six containers were available. The store clerk stated the obvious: restocking of baby formula has yet to restore both quantity and selection to pre-pandemic levels.
An alternative to baby formula – although one not accessible or even possible for all parents – is breastfeeding.
Vermont is a leader in breastfeeding initiation, with 91.5% of babies in the state receiving human milk shortly after birth, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. However, by the age of 6 months, the rate of babies who are exclusively breastfed drops to 36.8%. This coincides with the time many parents return to the workforce – which Vermont Dept. of Health public health nurse Deb Kitzmiller said shows just how important employer support for breastfeeding friendly policies in the workplace is to people being able to make this healthy choice for their babies.
“World Breastfeeding Week is a perfect time for us to show people how and why breastfeeding and chestfeeding can be the easy and healthy choice,” said Deb Kitzmiller, a public health nurse with the department’s Brattleboro Local Health Office. “As part of this year’s focus, we also wanted to spotlight the important role Vermont employers have in supporting their lactating employees.”
“Supportive work policies allow people the time and space to continue pumping and providing human milk to their babies,” said Kitzmiller. “In addition to the significant health aspects, becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer provides tangible benefits for businesses as well.”
The Vermont Department of Health supports and encourages breastfeeding because of its important health benefits for both the person who is lactating and the baby. For adults, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and postpartum depression. In addition to the important nutrition and growth benefits, babies who breastfeed have improved cognitive development and a reduced risk for chronic diseases. Breastfed babies also have a reduced risk of severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death syndrome (SUID). Breastfeeding also offers important bonding opportunities for both.
Data shows policies that support new parents in the workplace can benefit employers through decreased turnover, greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher morale and staff loyalty, as well as through lower health care costs (average annual savings is $400/breastfed baby).
The VT Dept. of Health will hold three “The Big Let Down” events (formerly called “The Big Latch On”). Participants will automatically be entered to win prizes. Bring your questions, as lactation experts will be available:
- A virtual event on Friday, Aug. 5 from 1 – 2 p.m.
- In-person event at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction on Saturday Aug. 6 from 10 – 11:00 a.m.
- In person event at Winston Prouty in Brattleboro on Sunday, Aug. 7 from 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Click here for more information and to register, or visit the Health Department Brattleboro, Springfield or White River Junction Facebook sites. People can also call Jackie Lindamood at 802-289-0600 for more information.
This news story includes content from a Vermont Department of Health news release.
Categories: Health Care