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Breastfeeding shouldn’t be discouraged

It’s a practice many Americans seem uncomfortable discussing, much less seeing.

But given all the known benefits for infants, it’s long since time we got over the seeming squeamishness about women breastfeeding in public.

Really, no one cringes at seeing a doe nurse a fawn, cats with a bunch of kittens lined up at the milk bar or puppies mobbing mom’s belly. If anything, it draws an “awww, cute.”

Yet for some reason, a woman doing this same natural act in the open gets raised eyebrows, to say the least, even when covered. Some have been told to take it into a business dressing room if available, or a restroom — not exactly a sanitary place to consider feeding a child. Or they’ve simply been told to leave.

So, with August being National Breastfeeding Month, it’s time to make the case for what should be obvious — that no one should have a problem with breastfeeding if they really care about what’s best for the child.

The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as the ideal method to raise an infant, the Florence County Health Department advised in a news release this week.

Research has shown the benefits include boosting the immune system of infants and reducing the risk of respiratory infection and Type 1 diabetes, the FCHD stated.

In addition, mothers who breastfeed have lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. In Wisconsin, mothers have a legal right to breastfeed in any public or private location where the mother or child are otherwise authorized to be. No person may prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her child, direct a mother to move to another location, cover her child or breast while breastfeeding or otherwise restrict a mother from breastfeeding.

Michigan law provides much the same protections.

“As we work to create a pro-breastfeeding environment, more mothers choose to breastfeed. This improves both infant and maternal health,” said Nancy Osterberg, Florence County Women, Infants and Children registered dietitian.

For more information on breastfeeding, the Florence County Health Department can be reached at 715-528-4837. It is on the second floor of the county courthouse, 501 Lake Ave. in Florence, Wis. The website at http://www.florencecountywi.com/.

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department also has information on breastfeeding and other topics at 906-779-7212 or 906-265-4173, or on its website at https://www.didhd.org/wic.php.

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