Assemblywoman Solages joined breastfeeding mothers and families, elected officials, and advocates from all over New York City to launch the NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council’s annual Breastfeeding Subway Caravan. There Assemblywoman Solages was also presented with the NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council's Breastfeeding Champion Award by Dr. Susan Vierczhalek, Vice Chairperson of the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition.
Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages received the award for her work to ensure that this year's state budget included Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk. Pasteurized donor human milk, or PDHM, is given to premature babies and those born with very low birth weights when a mother's milk is not available. PDHM helps prevent many health complications, some potentially fatal, and provides significantly more benefits than formula. However, because it was not reimbursed by Medicaid, PDHM had been unavailable for many low-income families in the NICU. Medicaid is now able to cover PDHM for the medically fragile hospitalized infant. This is life-saving for many infants. For others it will save millions of dollars in health care costs and improve the health of the baby.
“In light of the many benefits of breastfeeding, it is essential that communities support and improve access to good nutrition for our little New Yorkers. As a new mother myself, I experienced the many challenges that women face in regards to ensuring the well-being of our infants. That is why I made a commitment to advocate for legislation that builds a strong foundation for our children, their families and our State,” said Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages. “I am honored and humbled to receive the New York City Breastfeeding Leadership Council Breastfeeding Champion Award. I would also like to applaud the accomplishments of New York City Breastfeeding Council and all the advocates who are dedicated in promoting Breastfeeding throughout New York State. Together we will protect, promote and support breastfeeding."
The goal of the Breastfeeding Subway Caravan is to celebrate breastfeeding women and families and to raise public awareness of New York State laws that protect nursing mothers and babies. It is held on the first Friday in August to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). Each year hundreds of thousands of people from over 170 countries join in celebrating the miracle of mother’s milk. This year’s WBW theme is Sustainable Partnership and the Rule of Law. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding, along with appropriate solid foods, should continue up to two years of age or beyond.
“Every major health organization in the world recognizes the importance of breastfeeding," said Theresa Landau, Chairperson, NYC Breastfeeding Leadership Council, Inc. "Breastfeeding is not only a lifestyle choice, but is a public health imperative. It is up to us as a society to support mothers and families in their breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding gives every baby a healthy start in life – regardless of their income status, ethnicity, race or religion. We are working together to create a culture that is comfortable with breastfeeding. NYC is providing many opportunities for moms to reach their breastfeeding goals … from prenatal care …. to maternity hospital practices … to community support. The Breastfeeding Subway Caravan was created to raise awareness of a woman’s right to breastfeed, anywhere, anytime.”