The nation's breastfeeding debate is continuing, with politicians joining the discussion.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently came out in favor of breastfeeding whenever possible and has even implemented a program called "Latch On NYC," where 27 of 40 hospitals will no longer hand out promotional formula unless for medical reasons or at the mother's request.
Events are also planned around the country for World Breastfeeding Month to help tout the benefits of breastfeeding.
"There are a whole slew of benefits, including losing weight, reducing the risks of breast and ovarian cancer by 50 percent and providing antibodies to baby," said Carina Page, a breastfeeding peer helper with Washington-Morgan Community Action. "I help to counsel our pregnant moms and I see them at least three times during their pregnancy."
Page said the federally- funded WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program through Community Action doesn't push breastfeeding but rather helps to educate mothers.
"Breastfeeding is so personal," she said. "I chose to breastfeed my son mainly for the health benefits and also I wanted that connection. For some moms, it makes them uncomfortable and we understand that."
10 a.m. to noon Aug. 25, Sept. 22 and Oct. 27 at First United Methodist Church, 10th and Juliana streets in Parkersburg.
Free and open to the public.
For information: Danielle Bergum, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breastfeeding should begin within an hour of birth.
Bottles or pacifiers should be avoided.
Breast milk gives all newborns all the nutrients they need.
Mom is at a reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer in later life.
Breastfeeding contributes to faster weight loss after pregnancy.
Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
An international code to regulate the marketing of breast-milk substitutes was adopted in 1981.
Many mothers will experience pain and difficulties in the beginning.
Women should continue to breastfeed as they introduce complementary foods.
Source: World Health Organization.
Of the women that Page counsels, she estimates that 50 percent will initiate breastfeeding in the hospital, while only about 36 percent stick with it after a couple weeks. Fewer moms -15 percent - continue after six months.
Another Mid-Ohio Valley mother who has chosen to breastfeed is Danielle Bergum, 27, of Murraysville, W.Va. Bergum breastfed her daughter, for two-and-a-half years, and is currently breastfeeding her son, 10 months. As the owner/director of Esali Birth, she started a breastfeeding cafe in Parkersburg to supplement the fact that there is no longer a La Leche League in the area.
"We meet the fourth Saturday of every month, except December, at the First United Methodist Church in Parkersburg," she said. "We are an educational and support group for moms. It's not a formal group and is open to everyone."
Bergum, like Page, feels that education is very important and misinformation can lead to a rush to judgment.
"I went through a period of time when I was bashing formula because I wasn't educated enough about different backgrounds," Bergum said. "I would rather see moms get support."
It seems breastfeeding women are getting more and more support at home, in the community and even in the workplace. The Department of Labor, as part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act of 2010, requires employers to provide reasonable break time for mothers who need to pump breast milk for the first year of a child's life and also a private place to express milk, other than a bathroom.
"It really is a win-win," said Page. "If mom is going back to work and she is allowed time to pump, it means she is going to do her work better. It also means less sick time. There are still those who will say it's unfair that the mom gets more break time but it goes back to education of co-workers about the benefits."
Page sees many low-income mothers in her role with Community Action and those mothers and their children are often eligible for coupons for formula. This is not something that WIC plans to change.
"The cost of formula is outrageous. That is another reason we educate about breastfeeding," she said. "I do think, though, that hospitals should be obligated to have lactation consultants and nurses and those in the maternity wards should be more educated about breastfeeding. As far as handing out samples of formula, for me, that raises a red flag and says to the mother, 'We don't have confidence in you.'"
On the other hand, Page said she knows that breastfeeding is not going to be for everyone and there needs to be options.
"WIC will never take away formula because it is a very personal decision," she said.