Pioneering Mayor Starts Breastfeeding Commission


Richmond Mayor Dwight JonesIf only newborns could vote, they’d surely cast their teeny little ballots for Richmond, Virginia’s Mayor Dwight Jones. That’s because this long-time activist in the black community has come up with an innovative strategy for improving the health and well-being of his constituency: increasing the breastfeeding rates in his town.
To this end, he has enacted a Breastfeeding Commission. It’s the kind of thing you could imagine people joking about, but they better not: it’s a 21st-century idea that deserves to be adopted in every city and town.

When he announced the commission, Jones had some sobering statistics at hand: Disadvantaged babies, which are disproportionately also black babies, have a 50 percent higher chance of dying of SIDS and suffer from many other health problems as well. Though there are many reasons these things might be true, he is convinced that breastfeeding would solve at least some of the problem.
His goal is to get a 25 percent breastfeeding rate in Richmond in the next six months, and eventually work up to 75 percent. The panel is made up of doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and community leaders, and will make recommendations at the end of 2011, at which point they’ll be disbanded (and, presumably, a more official office will be set up).
This is so awesome on so many levels. A political leader understands, on such a deep level, that breastfeeding amounts to preventive medicine. While many formula-fed children are just fine, an increase in breastfed babies will lead to better health overall.
It’s also going to lead to a lot of other improvements. For one thing, a lot of poor women, regardless of race, can’t breastfeed because they have to go back to work sooner, often at places that don’t provide pumping rooms or nursing breaks. The presence of a breastfeeding commission would, hopefully, give women strategies and support if they have to fight their employers for work situations that support their breastfeeding (and the rest of their parenting as well -- because it all goes together).
To drive the point home, Mayor Jones also threw around the kind of statistics that employers need to hear -- that breastfeeding moms supposedly take fewer sick days to care for sick kids. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know, having worked for a crappy, un-child-friendly corporation, that sometimes that’s the only language those mean bosses speak, so more power to him.
Do you think local government support will increase the number of breastfed babies? Do you think this will improve public health?

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RanaA... RanaAurora

If they can really focus on ALL the things in the way for breastfeeding moms, from misinformation, lack of access to a GOOD lactation consultant (not just "LCs" who did one conference), problems with businesses not allowing employee breaks, etc, this could be an amazing idea.

momto... momtothemax2910

This has the potential to be amazingly worthwhile. I look forward to hearing of it's success and to hear of other cities adopting a similar, hopefully productive commission.

Jasmine Mitose

the fact that they have to work UP to 25% makes me sad for the pathetic nursing rates in this country. good for mayor jones on making a great move in the right direction!!!

nonmember avatar Alex

Give me a break. So tired of hearing about "poor disadvantaged mothers". Listen it's tough on everyone of us, not just a vocal needy minority. I am tired of regulations being put into place that eventually will usurp our freedoms simply because certain segments of our population cannot provide for their own responsibility.

This is another excuse to push the breast feeding agenda down our throats. Pathetic.

Maggie Tavares

@Alex....Breastfeeding is so good for your baby and for you. You may not feel that breastfeeding is right for your family but for people that are just lazy and and don't want to give up certain things for the benefit of their child that is just being selfish especially when it helps you in the long run.

I am completely for this going into effect and I would love to see more people in my own community and state to be more educated on the benefits of breastfeeding and I think everyone should at least try it out before deciding its not for them. There are women that wish they could nurse and are unable.

For the people that cannot "afford" to nurse that is unheard of....not having to pay for formula or bottles is a price cut for them as it is. Some workplaces are unsupportive of pumping mothers but you can take your 15 min breaks or lunch breaks to pump. I work in a restaurant and I still take the time to pump every 3-4 hours. I make it work for the benefit of my baby. I do it with my six month old and I did it with my son for a year.

Heather Lewis

How will a breastfeeding commission "usurp our freedoms"? That train of thought makes no sense. It isn't just about "poor disadvantaged mothers" or minorities. Breastfeeding is good for ALL children and for many reasons. Alex, peolpe with your level of ignorance is exactly why Mayor Dwight Jones is doing what he is doing.

Stephanie Wiltcher

alex are you kidding me? he is not forcing anyone to breastfeed. no one is "pushing the breast feeding agenda down our throats". i am pretty sure that breastfeeding has been scientifically proven to be better for babies, so why not encourage it? and this person is not bashing formula at all. if you think about it, the more people that breastfeed, the healthier the future generation can be. the people who have to go on WIC wont have to for formula thus saving some tax payer money since formula is expensive and we all know how some people feel about low income people "abusing" the system :: eye roll:: this man is trying to do something good for the people in his town. and i dont see it being a bad thing. 

no one is bashing anything, but ENCOURAGING one thing. and this is coming from a mom who ended up formula feeding at when my son was 4 months. 

Carrie Suzanne Hambrick Buffington

absolutely wonderful!  good for him.  i am a little confused about the comment just before mine, stating that this is a pathetic attempt to push breastfeeding down our throats.  why did this person even read this article if they are so anti-breastfeeding?  providing reources and support is a great step. and i applaud it!

South... SouthALMommy

I think it's wonderful and hope that other communities, towns, cities, and states adopt the same agenda. No one is pushing breastfeeding down anyone's throat but like one of the previous comments said, people should try it out before just saying it's not for them. Our breast produce milk for a reason. Breast are not just for sex objects and I encourage every mother to get accurate information about breastfeeding. There is so much misinformation out there and a lot of speculations instead of cold hard facts. 

And by the way, if it's okay for companies to give individuals smoking breaks then they should be okay with giving nursing moms a pumping break. Smoking employees take more breaks during the day than a mother to nurses does to pump. (in an 8 hour day a mom will probably only have to pump a couple times and those that are taking smoking breaks may take one every hour)

Jaime Weis

LOL'd at the "breastfeeding agenda." Agenda? Healthier children and fewer tax dollars going to WIC formula (hundreds of dollars saved by each mom who nurses rather than use the free formula)? That's an agenda I can live with. And what freedoms are being usurped? They'll at most enact laws that permit pumping breaks at work for nursing mothers. Are you afraid of losing the "freedom" of free formula? Don't worry, no one will take that from you. 

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