By Kelly McKinney
Register News Writer
The best way to keep a baby healthy can’t be found in a doctor’s office or a medicine bottle, and it doesn’t cost a penny, according to local health officials.
It’s breastfeeding, which can prevent illnesses, obesity and even teeth and jaw problems, they say.
Those wanting to find out more about breastfeeding will have the opportunity Thursday during an informational session hosted by the Madison County Health Department.
Babies’ Best Start is designed to teach how to start breastfeeding, address concerns and provide information about area resources, according an announcement from the health department.
The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and will take place in the administration building of the department’s Richmond clinic, 216 Boggs Lane. Admission is free and open to everyone.
“Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against many illnesses,” according to the website of the La Leche League, an international organization dedicated to providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed.
The immunity passed to infants from mother’s milk can help ward off painful ear infections, upper and lower respiratory ailments, allergies, intestinal disorders, colds, viruses, staph, strep and e-coli infections, diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, many childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as well as lifetime protection from Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, some lymphomas, insulin dependent diabetes, and for girls, breast and ovarian cancer, it states.
Mothers also benefit, according to the La Leche League. Women who breastfeed have reduced rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and obesity.
Even though it comes with so many advantages, many women in Kentucky do not breastfeed because they don’t receive enough support, according to the author of a brochure on the Lexington Fayette County Health Department’s website.
The barriers women face include having to return to work shortly after their babies are born and not knowing how to maintain their milk supply and the fear that breastfeeding is painful.
“They (also) are concerned about the sexual perceptions of breasts and fear harassment and ostracism from family and community,” the brochure states.
The Madison County Health Department has a breastfeeding support team that helps mothers who need guidance.
For more information about Babies’ Best Start or breastfeeding in general, call the support team at 623-7312 or 986-1192.
Kelly McKinney can be reached at kmckinney@ richmondregister.com or 624-6694.