Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Area of Focus

Social Sciences

Abstract

Developing Community Partnerships to Promote Breastfeeding on the Flathead Indian Reservation

Amy Stiffarm, cMPH1, The Breastfeeding Coalition of the Mission Valley2, Kari Harris, Ph.D1, Emily Colomeda, MPH, RN2

1School of Public and Community Health Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 2Lake County Public Health Department, Polson, MT.

Breastfeeding has many known health benefits for the growth and development of infants. It has been shown to reduce the risks for asthma, leukemia, obesity, ear infections, diarrhea, vomiting, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and others. (Office on Women’s Health, 2014) The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond. (WHO, 2016) As of 2012, only 10% of American Indian infants had met those requirements, (Goldhammer, 2014) suggesting the need for innovative approaches.

It is the aim of the Breastfeeding Coalition of the Mission Valley (BCMV) and other breastfeeding advocacy groups to help create awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and support mothers who wish to breastfeed. The purpose of the work reported here was to assist the BCMV in re-organizing and providing a new structure for the coalition. This was in an effort to encourage pregnant women to breastfeed and support breastfeeding mothers on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Currently, the BCMV is the only breastfeeding coalition in Montana located on an American Indian Reservation.

There are many barriers to starting and sustaining breastfeeding. Some barriers for the general population include, lack of support and acceptance by family, friends, and community and not enough breastfeeding-friendly public places. These barriers are true for the Native population as well. Additional barriers for Native American women in Montana are the lack of models, lactation consultants, and breastfeeding support groups on reservations.

Community partnerships, local supporters, and a small grant from the Montana State Breastfeeding Coalition allowed the coalition to host its first ever outreach event in honor of World Breastfeeding Day during the annual Standing Arrow Powwow in the summer of 2015. This outreach event served as an intervention to address the public health concern of Native mothers discontinuing breastfeeding too soon. The BCMV set up a breastfeeding support space through out the powwow where mothers could come nurse comfortably in the shade, while still being able to enjoy the powwow. The powwow committee provided water to all moms who used the area, a diaper changing station was made available to all moms who needed it, and educational material was made available for mothers and pregnant women.

While approximately five mothers used the space to breastfeed, over 10 mothers did use the diaper changing station. More importantly, the support space contributed to the to the normalization of breastfeeding, which was an additional aim of the intervention. The powwow committee was grateful for BCMV’s presence at their event and invited them back next year. Consistency in the support and the promotion of breastfeeding will help to further normalize breastfeeding. In future years it is expected that more mothers will utilize the breastfeeding support space. The BCMV is continually seeking ways to best meet the needs of breastfeeding mothers.

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Apr 14th, 1:00 PM Apr 14th, 1:20 PM

Developing Community Partnerships to Promote Breastfeeding on the Flathead Indian Reservation

Developing Community Partnerships to Promote Breastfeeding on the Flathead Indian Reservation

Amy Stiffarm, cMPH1, The Breastfeeding Coalition of the Mission Valley2, Kari Harris, Ph.D1, Emily Colomeda, MPH, RN2

1School of Public and Community Health Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 2Lake County Public Health Department, Polson, MT.

Breastfeeding has many known health benefits for the growth and development of infants. It has been shown to reduce the risks for asthma, leukemia, obesity, ear infections, diarrhea, vomiting, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and others. (Office on Women’s Health, 2014) The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond. (WHO, 2016) As of 2012, only 10% of American Indian infants had met those requirements, (Goldhammer, 2014) suggesting the need for innovative approaches.

It is the aim of the Breastfeeding Coalition of the Mission Valley (BCMV) and other breastfeeding advocacy groups to help create awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and support mothers who wish to breastfeed. The purpose of the work reported here was to assist the BCMV in re-organizing and providing a new structure for the coalition. This was in an effort to encourage pregnant women to breastfeed and support breastfeeding mothers on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Currently, the BCMV is the only breastfeeding coalition in Montana located on an American Indian Reservation.

There are many barriers to starting and sustaining breastfeeding. Some barriers for the general population include, lack of support and acceptance by family, friends, and community and not enough breastfeeding-friendly public places. These barriers are true for the Native population as well. Additional barriers for Native American women in Montana are the lack of models, lactation consultants, and breastfeeding support groups on reservations.

Community partnerships, local supporters, and a small grant from the Montana State Breastfeeding Coalition allowed the coalition to host its first ever outreach event in honor of World Breastfeeding Day during the annual Standing Arrow Powwow in the summer of 2015. This outreach event served as an intervention to address the public health concern of Native mothers discontinuing breastfeeding too soon. The BCMV set up a breastfeeding support space through out the powwow where mothers could come nurse comfortably in the shade, while still being able to enjoy the powwow. The powwow committee provided water to all moms who used the area, a diaper changing station was made available to all moms who needed it, and educational material was made available for mothers and pregnant women.

While approximately five mothers used the space to breastfeed, over 10 mothers did use the diaper changing station. More importantly, the support space contributed to the to the normalization of breastfeeding, which was an additional aim of the intervention. The powwow committee was grateful for BCMV’s presence at their event and invited them back next year. Consistency in the support and the promotion of breastfeeding will help to further normalize breastfeeding. In future years it is expected that more mothers will utilize the breastfeeding support space. The BCMV is continually seeking ways to best meet the needs of breastfeeding mothers.