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Basics of breastfeeding: Local, national resources available for new and soon-to-be moms

By ALETHEA PRICE

Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Science

Breastfeeding is a natural part of being a mother, but unless you or a family member have done it, it may be something that you know little to nothing about. With Aug. 1-7 recognized as World Breastfeeding Week and the entire month of August named National Breastfeeding Month, let’s take some time to discuss the topic.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for mothers and babies. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breastfed babies have lower risks of asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, ear infections, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed their children have lower risks of developing Type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

While breast-feeding is a natural process, it does not come without challenges, worries and issues. If you are pregnant, now is a great time to discuss your desire to breastfeed with your doctor. For some individuals, it may not be a viable option.

Mothers who have a child and are having trouble breastfeeding can talk to their health care provider to get help or the names of local professionals who are trained to address their concerns and provide tips. In some cases, you may need to seek out a lactation consultant. They are health professionals who specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Your doctor can point you in the right direction of a lactation consultant located near you.

In many areas, moms can join local breastfeeding support groups. The La Leche League International also hosts an online forum for breastfeeding mothers to share their stories and concerns with others. That site is forums.llli.org. Another amazing resource available right here in our county is the HANDS program at the Boyle County Health Department.

Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) is a free, voluntary intensive home visiting program for new or expectant parents who are parenting other children. HANDS strives for positive pregnancy outcomes; optimal child growth and development; healthy safe homes and enhancing family independence. You’ve got questions; they’ve got answers. Contact the Boyle County Health Department to get signed up.

A common worry for mothers is the public perception of breastfeeding in public places. In 2006, Kentucky passed a law that said mothers can breastfeed in any public place where they and their child would otherwise be allowed, and businesses, municipalities or other people should not interfere, restrict or prohibit them from doing so.

Remember: Breastfeeding is a personal decision. All moms deserve support regardless of how they decide to feed their infant. I repeat: All moms deserve support. They should not feel guilty if they cannot or choose not to breastfeed.

For more information about healthy living, contact the Alethea Price, Boyle County agent for family and consumer sciences at the Boyle County Extension Office at a.price@uky.edu.