As organizations prepare to observe World Breastfeeding Week, a three-county coalition is highlighting local work to support nursing mothers and families.

Members of the Goodhue Wabasha Pierce County Breastfeeding Coalition met in Red Wing on July 22 to recognize breast-feeding programs offered in recent years.

The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, running Aug. 1-7, is “Empower parents, enable breastfeeding.” To that end, the coalition will provide door hangers at displays in area libraries in August to help mothers create private spaces for breast-feeding or pumping.

New mothers have been appreciative of the support of local agencies, which strive to work together on unified messages and outreach, said Bea Haines, coordinator of the Goodhue County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

Members of the coalition include a variety of public health workers and Mayo Clinic Health System staff.

“It takes all of us to support the families in our area,” said Anne Beckman, a Mayo Clinic Health System registered nurse and certified lactation consultant. “We’re just really fortunate that we have so much cooperation with all the agencies.”

Among the coalition’s past accomplishments is launching Baby Cafés, a drop-in breast-feeding support program held 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays at First English Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Lake City Public Library. Based on the Baby Café USA model, the program provides support from trained staff and an opportunity to share experiences in open discussions.

The coalition works to promote breast-feeding and provide resources for the health of mothers and babies. Members said breast-feeding support starts before a mother gives birth, with prenatal education programs and local agencies endorsing each other's services.

World Breastfeeding Week is organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, a network of individuals and groups promoting breast-feeding.

Proponents of breast-feeding point to nutritional and immune system benefits for children. Breast-feeding also benefits mothers by lowering the risk for osteoporosis and certain cancers, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

For more information about the local coalition, find “Goodhue Wabasha Pierce County Breastfeeding Coalition” on Facebook.