Experts say breastfeeding good for children, mothers

Todd G. Higdon

Danielle Capps has three children that have benefited from a common bond. Each of them have been breastfed.

“I breastfed my first child for about six weeks and had a really hard time with my first one,” Capps said. “Did not talk to anybody. Then my second one, I did for about three or four weeks. Now I am breastfeeding Matthew, my 5-week-old son.”

Capps was in the Newton County, Missouri, Health Department talking with September Jennings, a breastfeeding peer counselor, about the importance of breastfeeding and education about breastfeeding.

Recently, in observance of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7), the health department’s Women, Infants and Children office encouraged mothers to provide their infants the best start in life by breastfeeding.

“Health experts agree that breastfeeding promotes good health for infants,” Jennings said.

“Breast milk contains more than 100,000 nutrients and antibodies.”

These nutrients and antibodies support the infant immune system and brain development, which gives babies a healthy start in life. A few studies show that breastfeeding increases one’s IQ, lowers the chance of obesity and reduces the risk of juvenile diabetes.

But there are benefits for the mother, as well.

Mothers that breastfeed lower their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding supports weight loss, and also is known to reduce post-partum depression.

“You lose weight faster,” Capps said. “But also, I know that my baby is as healthy as possible. It is a special bond. I am planning on breastfeeding for at least four months. He breastfeeds about six to eight times a day. I also do the breast pump as well. He does about 4 ounces and waits for about four to five hours to breastfeed again.”

In the last several months, the Newton County breastfeeding initiation rate has increased to 70 percent of all moms participating in WIC. WIC staff attributes the rate climb to the development and expansion of a successful peer-counseling program. The breastfeeding peer-counseling program is designed to support breastfeeding mothers through education and encouragement.

“Breastfeeding is one of the most important decisions a new mother can make to benefit the health of her child,” said Jennings.

Mothers often face challenges, such as misinformation, difficulties breastfeeding while working outside the home, lack of support from friends and family members, and overcoming her own doubts about breastfeeding successfully. The peer counselors work with the new and expecting mothers on a one-on-one basis to address these issues and any other concerns that may interfere with starting and/or continuing to breastfeed infants.

Neosho Daily News