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Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites recognized in Albert Lea

More than 89% of Minnesota moms start breastfeeding, but at 6 months that drops to 35 percent, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control breastfeeding report card.

Challenges women face to meet their breastfeeding goals include those they experience in health care settings, worksites and childcare centers.

According to a press release, thanks to the efforts by leadership within many organizations, that trend is changing across the state and in Freeborn County and Albert Lea.

A growing number of health care, childcare, employers and health departments are working to address the barriers and make breastfeeding easier for all mothers.

Trinity Lutheran Church of Albert Lea and Hy-Vee were recognized as 2019 Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites by the Freeborn County Breastfeeding Coalition and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership.

The staff at both the church and Hy-Vee worked hard these past few weeks to add and improve spaces to include a mother’s room that shows support for both employees and shows the community breastfeeding is important, the release states. Both sites are now compliant with state and federal law to offer breastfeeding support, a quiet room to express milk and resources for breastfeeding mothers. These spaces are open to the public as well.

“All are welcome to use our space. We wanted to do this for the community. To provide a space and help families to feel encouraged and comfortable when it comes to breastfeeding,” the Rev. Eileen Woyen said. “It was very simple to look at what we already had, and make it a better place for all.”

Public health educator Lana Howe of the Statewide Health Improvement Program on behalf of the coalition presents Hy-Vee human resources manager Shelby Alt with a certificate of recognition for being a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite. – Provided

Locally, the Freeborn County Breastfeeding Coalition has worked with numerous entities to establish breastfeeding friendly spaces and policies through Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and WIC.

The coalition provides education to worksites on implementing a lactation space and breastfeeding friendly policy at their organization. This has enhanced efforts regionally by encouraging employers to do their part in supporting breastfeeding friendly environments.

Trinity Lutheran Church and Hy-Vee in Albert Lea are the newest members of the coalition to demonstrate support for those breastfeeding by supplying a space people feel comfortable in, providing lactation specific policies for staff, and supporting the local breastfeeding coalition work by promoting the Breastfeeding Friendly initiative from MDH to community members and serving as a model to other worksites within Freeborn County.

Increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates is one of the goals outlined in the Healthy Minnesota 2020 framework to improve health and reduce health disparities across the state.

By making breastfeeding easier, mothers can reach their goals and give their babies the best possible start in life. Breastfeeding is important for mothers, too, the release states. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

The Minnesota Department of Health recognizes those who take steps to provide accommodation and support for women who would like to breastfeed or continue breastfeeding after returning to work or school. Visit the MDH Breastfeeding Friendly Recognition Program website for more details at www.health.state.mn.us.

For more information about the coalition or how to become a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite, contact Howe with SHIP Freeborn County at 507-377-5292.