Sokaogon Chippewa Community News
Baby Event Highlights Benefits of Breastfeeding
This week the Mole Lake Casino Bingo Hall hosted a special event for families that are interested in breastfeeding, whether they have done it, would like to, or are just supportive of the efforts to normalize breastfeeding in the community and elsewhere. Several different local agencies and programs set up shop, along with the Great Lakes Intertribal Council’s (GLITC) Breastfeeding the Traditional Way program.
Terri Kolb, the SNAP Education Director at GLITC, had a table at the event to help promote breastfeeding and nutrition education. Along with educational reading materials, Terri’s table also featured a blueberry salsa for guests to sample.
“One of our primary objectives is to get the word out about breastfeeding being the traditional first food,” Terri said. “We have found that in many communities that is not the case, so I’m invested in this because breast milk helps reduce the rates of chronic diseases and obesity. It also helps people connect with some of their traditional foods that give a lot of nutrients which are key in disease prevention.”
Cheri Nemec, WIC Director and Activity Coordinator for Breastfeeding the Traditional Way, was also set up with educational materials and available to answer questions anyone might have regarding breastfeeding.
“This event was initially created to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and Breastfeeding Awareness Month for August,” Cheri explained. “We wanted to use this as an opportunity to bring breastfeeding out to the community, and let people know that it’s not just a woman’s issue, but something the whole community needs to rally around and support.”
One goal the programs are striving for is to push forward resolutions in our Tribal communities which will allow breastfeeding anywhere a mother and baby happen to be, whenever a baby needs to be fed.
“Breastfeeding is legal in Wisconsin, although it is still illegal in some states, and while Tribes don’t have specific policies set in place regarding breastfeeding, getting resolutions in place is one of the important goals we have been working on with the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition,” Cheri said. “Having a policy in place will show that not only does the Tribe support mom and baby when they come home from the hospital, but also welcome it in the community.”
Awareness and education are both important. Most of all, Cheri wants moms to know that breastfeeding for a short period of time is better than none at all and the longer a mother breastfeeds, the better it is for both baby and mom.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to significantly reduce the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This is particularly significant, because Native American communities have seen the highest rates of infant mortality from SIDS than any other community.
“I wanted to acknowledge that Forest County Health Department was really instrumental in putting this together, and the Tribe donated the space and the lunch, and the agencies and programs that are here really show the support for this in the community,” Cheri said. “Ultimately breastfeeding is going to make a healthier next generation in our Tribal communities, and that is the ultimate goal.