Support for breastfeeding moms

By Michelle Brooks

mbrooks@newstribune.com

A new mother who chooses to breastfeed her baby today, might face opposition, which would have been unheard of even one hundred years ago.

When mothers entered the workforce during World War II, a shift began not only in the public opinion of nursing, but also in the availability and means mothers had to feed their infants.

Somehow the idea of breastfeeding in a first-world nation became looked upon as only for the lower class.

By 1972 only 22 percent of infants received any amount of breast milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be nursed for at least one year. And most other industrialized nations recommend two years, Davis said.

In 2010, 77 percent of mothers initiated breastfeeding.

Having a support group is a modern response to social misconceptions.

This winter the Cole County Health Department initiated a Breastfeeding Support Group in Russellville. The group will meet at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday or each month at Country Kids Day Care, 5904 Simpson St.

“Most moms have never seen anybody breastfeed,” said Renee Davis, a breastfeeding peer counselor with the health department. “We need to get moms connected with others making the same choices.”

In addition to encouragement, the support group is a place for education and for some moms problem-solving.

“Breastfeeding can be very tricky,” said Davis, who also is an international board certified lactation consultant.

In Cole County, several organizations have joined together to support mothers who choose breastfeeding.

The health department and its Women Infants Children (WIC) program work with the LaLeche League, Whaley’s Pharmacy, Capital Region Medical Center and St. Mary’s Health Center in a unique collaboration.

The goal: “so moms reach their own personal goals,” Davis said.

The Cole County Breastfeeding Support has found social media to be “extremely effective,” Davis said.

Its Facebook page includes regular articles and meeting reminders.

The WIC program sees about 50 percent of mothers in Cole County. Then, they try to reach mothers through flyers, a Lactation Resource Guide and hospitals.

“A high percentage of moms are not reaching their personal goals,” Davis noted. “Women are getting a lot of flak.”

If society would “stop sexualizing breastfeeding” that could go a long way, she said.

Infants who are not fed breast milk likely will have lower IQ scores, weaker immune systems and high risks of some cancers, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Their moms likely will miss more work and spend more time at healthcare providers.

“Formula-fed babies are costing everyone.”

For more information on mid-Missouri breastfeeding support groups, visit Cole County Breastfeeding Support Groups at www.facebook.com.

Local support groups meet:

• at noon the second Wednesday of the month at Whaley’s Southwest

• at 6 p.m. the second Thursday at First Assembly of God Church

• at 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday at Missouri River Regional Library

• at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday at St. Mary’s Health Center

• at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday at Country Kids Day Care, 5904 Simpson St., Russellville

• soon at Common Ground Community Center

On the Web: www.colehealth.org/events/LRG.pdf

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