Experts say breastfeeding is best for your children and now Richmond's mayor is looking for ways to get that message to the people who need to hear it the most.
A task force just released its recommendations on the subject Tuesday. The report represents two years of work on how to encourage breastfeeding in an under-served population. Richmond is the first local government to formulate a task force on this topic.
Even the mayor himself, was a little taken aback by the idea of a breastfeeding commission.
"I came up during a time where people were moving towards the formulas and not natural ways of taking care of children and so when it was suggested to me I was like, 'Well you know, what are we going back in time?' but it's been an education for me," Mayor Dwight Jones said.
With the recommendations released Tuesday, hopefully it will be an education for the city's population, much of which is living in poverty.
"It is preventative medicine," Jones explained. "It really is. It means that you're immunizing the child and we heard today that you're also protecting the mother from diseases and you're doing it in a way that is natural, that doesn't cost any money."
The recommendations include working with businesses to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed when they return to work and developing outreach programs for inner city populations.
"Breastfeeding is not a onetime thing," commission member Denise DiCicco said. "It is really something that has to occur on the continuum. So being able to provide information to moms during their prenatal time period is a big influence, as well as being able to support them after they have their babies."
The three major hospital systems in our area, all of which participated in the task force, hope this report helps breastfeeding latch on in the city.
"If you want a strong city you need strong families and you need healthy mothers and healthy babies," chair, Dr. Stephanie Ferguson, added.
The task force is still conducting community forums to hear directly from moms. Members say they will forward that information to the mayor, as well.
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