LANSING — New moms have to learn to cope with many changes, some think that the stigma of naturally feeding their baby shouldn’t be one of them.

To some breastfeeding may seem like a great mystery, but health departments and advocates across the country want to change that starting this month with National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
Breastfeeding has many different health perks both to moms and to their babies.

For babies it means a boosted immune system, an increase in I.Q. and decreased risk of SIDS – or sudden infant death syndrome. For moms it decreases the risk of Ovarian and Breast Cancer and helps with postpartum depression.

So you could say that breastfeeding builds a bond for mother and child that is emotional and biological. Dietician and Certified Breastfeeding Counselor Jean Ballone says even though it’s natural there is still a stigma.

“Women sometimes when they breast feed in public a lot of people give them a dirty look or they’ll not want them to breastfeed in public. They want them to go into a restroom or a private area. Actually, in Michigan a woman can breastfeed anywhere, anytime, as long as they’re legally allowed to be in that spot,” said Ballone.

“There’s about 75% of women in Michigan that initiate breastfeeding. Prior to last year in the legislation that was passed, we had women asked to leave stores and kicked off buses and other things because people felt uncomfortable with women breastfeeding and there was really no protection from that,” said Julie Lothamer, Michigan Breastfeed Peer Councilor Coordinator.

Michigan has seen changes to legislature to protect breastfeeding and even the nation has, too, since the Affordable Care Act, but progress is still needed.

“It’s important for everybody to know they have a role in supporting breastfeeding. They may not know what their direct roll is, and it may be just the person on the street that smiles at a nursing mom, but I think that culture change is the biggest thing that’s needed for us to support breast feeding,” said Lothamer.

If moms are not able to breastfeed there are breast-milk donors who donate through the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, that way babies can still get the benefits of breast-milk that formula can’t offer.

For more information about Human Milk Bank Association of North American click here.

For more information on the National WIC Association click here.

For more information about the Michigan WIC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services click here.

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