The Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition (GBC) has honored Dalton pediatrician Michael Hale, M.D. with the 2014 Breastfeeding Friendly Physician of the Year Award.
“Congratulations to Dr. Hale for being chosen by his patients as a breastfeeding supporter,” said Arlene Toole of the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition board member. “Thanks to the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition for recognizing physicians who are helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals. We are glad we can recognize physicians in Georgia who are not only seeking education on breastfeeding themselves but are encouraging and supporting mothers as they continue to provide human milk for their infants.”
Hale, a 2001 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and a highly regarded physician at Pediatrics of Dalton, exemplifies the spirit of the award through his dedicated support of breastfeeding. This support has included educating moms on breastfeeding and engaging in research and legislation related to lactation. Additionally, Hale has been involved in community and peer support programs, and he maintains a baby-friendly office.
“I think the greatest barrier to breastfeeding is a sense in mothers of isolation and lack of support,” Hale stated. “If I can be a cheerleader and support for moms, then I think that makes a lot of difference. They need to know that someone is on their side at the beginning when it can really be tough.”
Toole concurs. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants be breastfed exclusively for 6 months and continue to breastfeed with added foods for at least a year,” said Toole. “However, research shows that most mothers stop breastfeeding because of lack of support. Physicians are essential in helping mothers decide to breastfeed and to continue breastfeeding.”
The Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition aims to make breastfeeding the cultural and social norm throughout Georgia. One method for achieving this goal is by working with partnering agencies such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Karen Rutledge of the North Georgia Health District WIC program said, “This year’s Breastfeeding Friendly Physician award could not have gone to a more deserving recipient than Dr. Michael Hale. He has been a wonderful champion of breastfeeding here in north Georgia.”
Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to create a breastfeeding friendly environment. Log on to the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition's website at www.georgiabreastfeedingcoalition.org.