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More than 50 local establishments have signed up to welcome breastfeeding

Story Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:32:00 EDT

Rene Reposa, catering manager of Pasha Mezze in Norfolk, says participating in the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” program was a natural fit for her restaurant. “We promote healthy eating here for adults,” she says, “so of course we would want to promote the same for infants. Maybe if more infants were breastfed, we wouldn’t have to do so much educating when they get to be adults.”

“Breastfeeding Welcome Here” was created in 2012 as a collaborative project of the Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH), Healthy Norfolk and Healthy Portsmouth. It is funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Health.

As of late March, 53 local establishments, many of them restaurants, had signed up to display “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” posters, says Amy Paulson, CINCH Director and an EVMS Instructor of Pediatrics. The program is needed, Ms. Paulson says, because according to national data, while 75 percent of mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13 percent of them breastfeed exclusively, and for African-American mothers, that falls to 8 percent.

“If 90 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months,” she explains, “the nation would save $13 billion annually from reduced medical and other costs.” Families who follow optimal breastfeeding practices can save between $1,200 and $1,500 on infant formula in the first year alone, she adds.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s call to support breastfeeding reports these health benefits:

  • It protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia;
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma or become obese;
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS);
  • Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.

Brannon Godfrey, Portsmouth Deputy City Manager and Co-Leader of Healthy Portsmouth, says city leaders encourage businesses to welcome breastfeeding because the city is committed to improving the health of women and children. “Our community’s ongoing support to increase breastfeeding acceptance,” he says, “is key to decreasing the barriers to breastfeeding and improving our rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer.”

Through a collaboration between EVMS and Old Dominion University, 10 ODU nursing students have worked on the project since September 2013 as part of their community-health nursing rotation. They contacted potential participants, recruited 30 sites and helped evaluate program outcomes.  

Ms. Reposa of Pasha Mezze, a mother of two children whom she breastfed, would like to see more Hampton Roads businesses welcome breastfeeding. “Society seems to have taken a turn on this issue,” she says, “but we’ve never had any customers complain about nursing mothers here.”

Melanie Hayes, co-owner of The Cutting Edge in Chesapeake, also has had no customer complaints about her restaurant’s participation. “I nursed my daughter for 18 months,” she explains, “so I know how important it is. I felt I should be able to nurse her wherever I needed to.”

When a few lactation consultants who are regular customers of The Cutting Edge saw the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” poster, Ms. Hayes recalls, “They told me they were happy to see we’re participating.”

"Breastfeeding Welcome Here" Participants (as of March 31, 2014)

aLatté Café, 319 Granby St., Norfolk, VA

Andreas's Pizzeria & Ristorante, 236 Carmichael Way, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Azar's, 2000 Colley Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517

Bier Garden. 438 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Belmont House of Smoke, 2117 Colonial Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517

Bistro on Main Street, 500 East Main St., Suite 102 Norfolk, VA 23510

Café Europa, 319 High St., Portsmouth, VA  23704

Cafe Stella, 1907 Colonial Ave, Norfolk, VA 23517

California Pizza Kitchen, 200 Central Park Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Cogan's Pizza, 1901 Colonial Ave. Norfolk, VA 23517

Cold Stone Creamery, 520 W. 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517

Color Me Mine, 1300 Colley Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517

The Cutting Edge Café, 1434 Sam's Drive, #102, Chesapeake, VA 23320

Floralia, Virginia Beach, traveling doula

Griffs Sports Bar/Lounge, 509 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Guads At Granby, 7515 Granby St., Norfolk, VA 23505

Hair Boutique, 507 Washington St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Hickory Dental Arts, 236 Carmichael Way #312, Chesapeake, VA

Holistic Farmacy, 433 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Jersey Mike's, 520 W. 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517

Jimmy Johns, 140 Granby St., Norfolk, VA 23517

The Lobscouser, 337 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Martin's Soul Food, 5802 E Virginia Beach Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23462

Mi Hogar, 4201 Granby St., Norfolk, VA 23504.

Modern Maternity, 1564 Laskin Road, #166, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Moe's Southwest Grill, 520 W. 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517

My Gym, 1554 Laskin Rd # 118, Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Noel’s Deli, 321 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Norfolk Ice Cream Company, 4306 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508

Norfolk Public Library–Little Creek Branch, 7853 Tarpon Place, Norfolk, VA 23518

O's Donuts, 222 W. 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517

ODU Zero Subs, 4310 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508

Olde Towne Family Chiropractic, 355 Crawford St., #506 Portsmouth, VA 23704

Olde Towne Drug Center, 600 High St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

O’Sullivans Wharf, 4300 Colley Ave., Norfolk, VA 23508

Pam’s Hair Designers, 434 A Green St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

Panera Bread, 237 Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake, VA 23320

Panera Bread, 739 W. 21st St., Norfolk, VA 23517

Pasha Mezze, 340 W 22nd St., Norfolk, VA 23517    

Peaceful Parenting, 2303 Baltic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23541

Perfectly Frank, 236 Carmichael Way, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Platinum Salon, 440 Granby St., Norfolk, VA 23510

Plaza Del Sol Mexican Restaurant, 2200 Colonial Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517

Qdoba Mexican Grill, 1140 N Military Hwy., #812, Norfolk, VA 23502

Quisqueya Dominican Beauty Salon, 7616 Sewells Point Road, Norfolk, VA 23513

Rainbow Kids, D180- 5900 East Virginia Beach Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23502

Romano’s Macaroni Grill, 4574 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Sabor Caribenio, 7616 Sewells Point Road, Norfolk, Va 23513

Segundo Pizza, 455 Court St., Portsmouth, VA 23704

StarStruck Styles, 615 High St., Portsmouth, Va 23704

The Ten Top, 748 Shirley Ave., Norfolk, VA 23517

Tokyo Fresh Asian Bistro and Bar, 420 Monticello Ave., Norfolk, VA 23510

Wave of Life Chiropractic Center, 4640 Shore Drive, Ste. 106, Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Yo/mix, 420 Monticello Ave., Suite 110, Norfolk, VA 23510