AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Alabama ranks in the bottom three in the United States for breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Breastfeeding allows many health benefits for both a child and mother. To encourage more breastfeeding families, Alabama Extension’s Human Sciences unit has partnered with the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Partnership for Children and also the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee to launch the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Certification.
Alabama Extension will be lead the implementation of this initiative, which is available to all childcare providers. This new, statewide certification is completed by childcare providers to show they recognize and support breastfeeding families.
Dr. Paul Brown, Alabama Extension associate director, said this certification is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up Extension’s human sciences program area.
“This program and its marketing pieces clearly show the science-based underpinning in relation to human health,” Brown said. “It is the first of several new initiatives from Human Sciences Extension that connect readily to Auburn.”
“The program is one of the many ways Extension is tackling the high infant mortality rates as well as the high rates of diabetes and obesity within Alabama,” said Christina LeVert, an Alabama Extension regional agent specializing in human nutrition, diet and health. “The longer the breastfeeding relationship continues, the greater the benefit to both the mother and the baby.”
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Mothers who breastfed have a decreased risk of:
- Developing Breast Cancer
- Developing Ovarian Cancer
- Postpartum Depression
- Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Infants that are breastfed have decreased risk of:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Developing Type 2 Diabetes
- GI Issues
- Ear and Respiratory Infections
The Certification Process
LeVert says human sciences agents will work with childcare providers, both center and home based, to help them become certified as breastfeeding friendly.
The certification process includes a one-hour training conducted by an Extension regional agent. Following the training, interested providers must implement the 10 Steps to Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly. Participants will receive a toolkit that guides them through the process and also provides resources and tips for each step.
Extension agents will provide technical assistance throughout the entire process.
“We will help all interested providers as much as possible to become certified as Breastfeeding Friendly,” LeVert said.
Upon completion of the 10 steps, providers will submit an application for a site visit. An Extension regional agent will conduct the visit to determine if the providers are successfully following all 10 steps.
Certification will be good for two years. Multiple websites will host the names of certified providers including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee.
“This is fabulous news for Alabama,” said Dr. Barb Struempler, Alabama Extension’s program leader for EFNEP, SNAP-Ed and CDC AL ProHealth in Alabama.” “The Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Certification is a motivational tool for mothers and centers. This certification can be the catalyst for change. It has been a mission piece of the process for helping Alabama mothers and babies be healthier.”
For more information, contact your county Extension office or Christina LeVert at Christina.Levert@aces.edu.