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Indiana State Department of Health

Office of Women's Health Office of Women's Health

Welcome to Indiana State Department of Health’s Office of Women’s Health webpage.  The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is so pleased that you have chosen to learn about how our state is working to help improve the health of women.  We believe that every woman should have access to free, up-to-date and reliable resources to find out information about her health.  The Office of Women’s Health wants to ensure that each woman and girl in Indiana is aware of her own health status, risks and goals, and can achieve optimal health through access, education and advocacy.  Our website is inclusive of all OWH’s programs, and has a page of resources to help guide you in improving your health.  If you have any questions or need information that is not included on our website, please feel free to call 317-233-9156 or email  Thank you so much for visiting our site, and we wish you good health!

Warmest regards,
Laura Chavez, MPH, CLC, CHPE
Director, Office of Women’s Health

News to Use

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and normal acts in which a new mother can engage with her newborn.   It provides warmth, nutrition, engagement and constant opportunity for new mothers to learn about and bond with their new babies.  However, just because breastfeeding is natural, does not mean it comes naturally to a new mother and baby.  Many women struggle the first few weeks before breastfeeding becomes well-established.  It is vital that every new mother be surrounded by ample support during the first six weeks after her baby is born to ensure that breastfeeding is successful. 

There are many ways that you can help support a new breastfeeding mom in your life: 

  • Don’t be embarrassed!  Allow mom to nurse her newborn in front of you just like she would if she were providing a bottle;
  • Take on some responsibilities.  A new mom’s only job is nursing her baby.  Don’t ask if she needs help with dishes, laundry or childcare, just assume she does and offer to lend a hand! 
  • Be a resource, not a barrier!  If mom is getting frustrated or overwhelmed with nursing, help her connect to a lactation consultant, WIC or the La Leche League for help instead of encouraging her to stop nursing; 
  • Know that breast is best.  Many people are unaware of the current recommendations for nursing moms and babies and mistakenly give incorrect advice.  Take a breastfeeding class with mom to learn! 
  • Build the right environment.  Set up a nursing station next to the mother’s favorite nursing chair. Water is a must, but you may also include reading material, clean cloth diapers (for burps), TV remote, ipod and/or telephone.

For more information on breastfeeding support and resources, please visit the Maternal and Child Health division’s website at  Or health professionals can reference the CDC’s Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies at

Spotlight on Women's Health

March is National Women's History Month, and OWH honors those women whose contributions to health provision and research have been invaluable to improve the overall health of our communities and country.

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell was truly a pioneer for women pursuing work as physicians and entrepreneurs in public health.  She was born in Britain, but moved to America with her family in 1832.  It was here that she began to consider her future career, and turned to teaching, which was an acceptable profession for women at the time.  However, Elizabeth began considering medicine when a close friend who was passing away offered that she felt that there would have been less suffering in her illness had she had a female doctor. 

Elizabeth began to pursue admittance into medical schools across the country and was denied.  She was finally accepted at the Geneva Medical School in New York when her application was submitted to the student body and approved when students thought it was a joke.  Two years later, she became the first woman to attain an M.D. degree from an American medical school.  Elizabeth went on to establish her own medical practice, and eventually founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.  She used this institution not only to serve patients, but also established a medical college for women at which she taught for years. 

For more information on Elizabeth Blackwell and other women pioneers in health, please visit the National Institutes of Health at

Movers and Shakers

The Office of Women’s Health recognizes that advancements in women’s health do not happen on their own.  There are many amazing women and men behind the scenes working to improve the health of our Indiana communities through tireless efforts and advocacy for women’s health.  If you know an individual whose creativity, innovative work or diligent efforts have made a real difference in your community, and would like this individual considered to be highlighted in the “Movers and Shakers” section of the OWH webpage, please email Laura Chavez, Director of the Office of Women’s Health, at

Keep up with OWH!

  • Visit the Office of Women’s Health webpage for regular updates on women’s health-related issues and community services and programs that help promote women’s health and wellness across the state.
  • Follow OWH on Twitter @inwomenshealth for daily updates on women’s health facts and resources.

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