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Buncombe County HHS Receives Breastfeeding Friendly Business Designation

WIC team picture

Breast Feeding Friendly Designation- Buncombe HHS is on Board! 

The North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition (NCBC) has awarded Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) the Business Case for Breastfeeding Award. This designation means that there is coordination throughout BCHHS to ensure that breastfeeding employees in BCHHS have the opportunity to breastfeed in a supportive environment. We are also excited to announce that BCHHS is teaming up with Buncombe Partnership for Children to offer resources and training to organizations to help them achieve this designation in support of breastfeeding families.

Ample scientific and economic evidence confirms that mothers are more likely to breastfeed if their friends, families, health care providers, colleagues, and communities support them. Data shows that breastfeeding-friendly employers benefit from lower health care costs, lower turnover and absenteeism rates, higher productivity and morale. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognizes breastfeeding as the optimal nutritional source for babies and helps to prevent a range of infant illnesses and infant deaths.

The Business Case for Breastfeeding Award builds on the Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community County and City proclamations announced in July, 2019. Jan Shepard, BCHHS Health Director, is proud of the achievement and excited about the future possibilities for improving breastfeeding rates. “This designation shows that there is momentum towards achieving an official Breastfeeding-Family-Friendly Community Designation in Buncombe County. We have the capacity to get there with the assistance of partners across the community who are in step with our actions in WIC and across HHS. While breastfeeding promotion may seem like common-sense to some people, data shows that communities with this designation are better able to organize their efforts and realize improvements in infant and maternal mortality as well as overall mortality rates, particularly if focused on disparities in breast feeding initiation,” says Shepard.

Buncombe County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been central to this effort for BCHHS. Many years ago, WIC utilized their unique knowledge and experience with lactation and breastfeeding mothers to make substantive changes in the policy for Buncombe County employees to support breastfeeding.  WIC Director, Sarah Bennett, states, “This recent designation highlights the active support Buncombe County Health and Human Services has long provided to both employees and members of the community who breastfeed their children. In addition, we are fortunate in our local WIC Program to have a team of well-trained staff who actively support breastfeeding moms and babies (and families) to achieve their breastfeeding goals. These combined efforts are getting us closer to achieving the goal of being a designated Breastfeeding-Family-Friendly Community in Buncombe County.”

While the designation creates a positive image as a “family friendly” business, it is a key strategy of the Buncombe County Community Health Improvement Process to improve birth outcomes and reduce the rate of infant mortality in Buncombe County, especially for African American babies. Breastfeeding trends in our community indicate that, in 2017, 74% of Black mothers were breastfeeding at discharge after birth in Buncombe County, compared with 89.5% of White mothers and 96.3% of Hispanic or Latinx mothers. Presently, African American babies in Buncombe County are nearly 4 times as likely to die in the first year of life as White babies in Buncombe County.

BCHHS has teamed up with Buncombe Partnership for Children to provide education and support to local health care providers, childcare centers, places of worship, restaurants, businesses and communities to increase breastfeeding participation. These efforts will also be focused on reducing disparity rates by race and normalizing breastfeeding for all families in Buncombe County.

If your business is interested in achieving this designation, we encourage you to contact the Buncombe Partnership for Children.

To learn more: