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Make a Breastfeeding-Friendly Health Department

breastfeeding-welcome.jpgBreastfeeding is one of the most effective measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself.

Dakota County recognizes breastfeeding as the first step toward a lifetime of healthy living and promotes and supports breastfeeding as the healthiest feeding option in many ways, including:

  • Partnering with community members to build a supportive breastfeeding environment. Breastfeeding in Dakota County – 2015 Assessment
  • Supporting breastfeeding employees and visitors to county buildings.
  • Collaborating with worksites and child care providers to enhance breastfeeding support for working families.
  • Providing breastfeeding mothers with one-to-one and group breastfeeding support through home visiting, infant feeding discussion groups, and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Dakota County Public Health is one of two local health departments awarded “gold level” recognition by the Minnesota Department of Health for supporting breastfeeding. The recognition program was created to acknowledge a local health department’s commitment to supporting healthy families by developing policies and practices and providing community leadership in improving breastfeeding rates. To achieve the gold level, health departments must demonstrate completion of all 10 recommended steps for promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

10 Steps for Breastfeeding-Friendly Health Departments
There are10 key steps  that local health departments can take to become breastfeeding-friendly:

    1. Establish a designated individual/group to lead the effort become a breastfeeding-friendly health department.
    2. Have a written breastfeeding policy.
    3. Coordinate support and promotion to establish breastfeeding as the “norm” in the community.
    4. Collaborate with community partners to assure access to breastfeeding classes.
    5. Educate the community on breastfeeding support.
    6. Encourage racially and ethnically diverse resources within the community.
    7. Support mothers in initiating and maintaining breastfeeding for up to 12 months and beyond. 
    8. Encourage local public places to provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
    9. Select businesses each year and provide workplace lactation support training.
    10. Facilitate access to information and training for local childcare centers to support breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding-Friendly Health Department Toolkit
This toolkit is designed to help local health departments use evidence-based breastfeeding policies and practices to create a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department and promote breastfeeding in the community. The toolkit outlines the ten step process and includes resources that support each step. A checklist is included to help explore, understand and take action to complete each step. BreastfeedingFriendlyHealthDepartmentToolkit.pdfDownload the toolkit.

Local public health agencies and tribal health boards in Minnesota are eligible for recognition as a Breastfeeding Friendly Health Department at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.  Guidelines for recognition and the application to become a Breastfeeding-Friendly Health Department, go to the Minnesota Department of Health website

Last updated: 5/12/2016 11:21 AM