OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Feeding your child can be a very personal and bonding experience, whether through breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Although we’ve made strides in making breastfeeding a more accessible option, experts say we still have room to grow.
“It’s a process, and our culture doesn’t make it easy,” said Kathy Leeper, medical director of MilkWorksa resource that offers classes and consultations for breastfeeding parents.
Leeper says everyday things, like breastfeeding education, to broader ideas, like paid maternity leave, could help more parents continue breastfeeding. Currently, only about two-thirds achieve their personal goals.
the latest CDC data shows that more than 85% of infants in Nebraska are breastfed, and by the time those babies are six months old, the number drops to around 63%.
In Iowa, 80% of infants are breastfed, and at six months that number drops to 54%.
Data is still being collected on who the pandemic has affected those numbers, but MilkWorks says that over the past 18 months they’ve helped more families through in-person and virtual consultations and classes.
Working from home seems to make breastfeeding more accessible and many parents are learning potential health benefits.
Stephanie Bradley with the Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition said parents concerned about COVID should continue to breastfeed their babies.
“Breastfeeding from breast milk provides antibodies, many of them, in a way that other breast milk substitutes cannot,” Bradley said. “Breastfeeding is therefore also a preventive measure.”
resources like the Iowa Breast Milk Bankwhich helps provide breast milk to hospitals and families in 12 states, also say they are seeing a huge increase in donations.
“In 2020, we had to buy seven new freezers because we receive so much milk,” said donor coordinator Heidi Baudhuin.
Donated milk is pasteurized and donors are screened.
Baudhuin says it’s a good option for mothers who have physical breastfeeding issues, premature babies and adoptive families. Patients can get the donated milk while they are in hospital or they can get a prescription from a doctor to have it sent to their home.
Lactation experts say they will help families breastfeed during the pandemic and beyond.
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