When it comes to breastfeeding success, it's all about support: from family and friends, healthcare professionals, other breastfeeding moms and, perhaps most of all, employers.
"That's the biggest barrier to continuing breastfeeding for many moms, going back to work," said Janet Medovic, lactation consultant at East Ohio Regional Hospital and treasurer of the Ohio Valley Breastfeeding Coalition. The coalition, which comprises lactation consultants; nurses; Women, Infants and Children employees; and community members who support breastfeeding, on Saturday held its 15th annual walk to support breastfeeding at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville. The walk always takes place during World Breastfeeding Week, which is the first week of August.
To show appreciation to local employers who have made continued breastfeeding possible for families, the coalition takes nominations and recognizes these businesses and individuals at the walk. This year's recipients were Cat Connors, Friends of St. Clairsville Public Library president, nominated by Natalie Hawthorne; Martins Ferry McDonald's, nominated by employees Colleen Kennedy and Brittany Brown; Cynthia Stanley, nominated by Cherie Wise; Dr. Craig Bentley, nominated by Michelle Littleton; and Michele Grant at Belmont Career Center, nominated by Christina Stillwell.
Walkers participate in the walk to support breastfeeding sponsored by the Ohio Valley Breastfeeding Coalition on Saturday at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville.
Leading the walk to support breastfeeding at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Saturday are, from left, Zoey Landers, Kasey Barnett, Seanna Johnston, Austin Barnett, Ethan Flynn and Warren Barnett.
Jill Stromeyer of Martins Ferry helps strap 6-month-old twin Benedict to dad Anthony Stromeyer before the walk.
Cat Connors, left, holding 6-year-old daughter Sophia, accepts the Ohio Valley Breastfeeding Coalition’s employer support award following the walk. Natalie Hawthorne of St. Clairsville, holding 9-month-old Saphina, nominated Connors because of her willingness to allow Hawthorne to bring Saphina to painting classes she taught at the St. Clairsville Public Library, and take breaks to feed her if necessary. The classes are organized by Connors, president of the Friends of the Library.
Each employer or instructor (in the case of Grant) was nominated because of his or her willingness to work with their employees' and student's schedules to accommodate the breastfeeding mothers' needs - from providing a clean, private space to express milk to allowing the employee to bring the baby to work.
"It's really just the little things that made a huge difference in being able to help these moms and their babies," said Becky Williams, coalition co-chair and registered nurse at Ohio Valley Medical Center.
The Wheeling chapter of La Leche League holds it support meeting at 10 a.m. on the fourth Monday of every month at Covenant Community Church, 250 Bethany Pike, Wheeling.