Nationwide, there is a movement to urge more mothers to breastfeed. For baby, breast milk provides important nutrients and antibodies to boost overall health both immediately after birth and in the long term. For mom, breastfeeding can help stabilize blood sugar and even lower blood pressure. Yet, breastfeeding, especially in public, still stirs controversy.
"I believe in our society, women's bodies particularly the breasts have become more sexualized. It kind of stems away from the fact that biologically it's normal to breastfeed," said lactation consultant and registered nurse Nicole Fox.
Events like World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month are encouraging communities to support breastfeeding mothers. In Louisiana, health and state officials are working to encourage the practice through support groups and legislation.
"Louisiana fortunately allows mothers to breastfeed in public. It is not against the law," said Dr. Marilyn M. Reynaud of the Department of Health and Hospitals. "We do encourage women to breastfeed and not have that fear."
State law also requires at least 10 state buildings to provide lactation rooms, and it provides a sales tax break for breastfeeding items.
Despite these efforts, officials say more progress and acceptance is needed. Louisiana has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country.
"That means physicians, clinicians, hospitals, family members, work places, schools. Everyone is important and has to be involved in making this work," said Reynaud.
"Mothers need a lot of emotional support, they need educational support, they need professional support at some points, so we all have a role to play," said Fox.
Fox also encourage breastfeeding mothers discuss their plans with employers ahead of time in order to make any necessary arrangements such as deciding times and areas where the mom can express milk.
There are also several online resources available to help mothers. For more information, follow the links below.
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