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In Kids & Family

Pro-breast feeding signs like this appear in local doctors' offices, but more support is still needed.

Breast Feeding Coalition hosts walk for support


Although women -- like all mammals -- have fed milk to their young for hundreds of thousands of years, the ongoing, worldwide need for breast feeding support and information still exists.

For the third year in a row, the Milwaukee Breast Feeding Coalition hosts "Walk to Protect, Promote and Support Breast Feeding" to illuminate the oldest form of nutrition. The walk is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1, and the the theme for 2009 is "Breast Feeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are you Ready?"

On-site registration is at 8:30 a.m. The walk begins at 9 a.m. at Aurora Sinai Heart Institute, 960 N. 12th St., and it ends at Fondy Market, 2200 W. Fond Du Lac Ave. The walk is 1.8 miles long.
A free bus shuttle service, children activities, refreshments and T-shirts are available. This event is free and open to the public. Women who are current breast feeders -- or those who nursed in the past -- are encouraged to attend, as well as anyone who might consider breast feeding in the future.

The objectives of the walk are primarily to draw attention to the vital role that breast feeding plays worldwide. Also, the walk will stress the need for global protection and support as well as to inform mothers, advocates, health professionals, communities and governments on how they can support breast feeding. The coalition also hopes to remind people about the need to mobilize on a global level.

According to gynecologist and activist doctor Dr. Neelamn Singh, a million babies could be saved worldwide if they were breast fed in the first hour of their life. However, many women lack the nutrition and / or education to breast feed their newborns, which is why organizations like the Milwaukee Breast Feeding Coalition work to spread their mission in Brew City and beyond.

On the local level, new mothers need breast feeding information and support, too. Some women struggle with breast feeding in the first days or weeks postpartum, and may decide not to do it without encouragement.

Mary Beth Franke, the mother of an 8-year-old boy, says she would have stopped breast feeding shortly after her son was born if it weren't for the support of La Leche League (LLL). Franke, who was living in Michigan after her son's birth, says her local LLL taught her how to breast feed without pain and reassured her there wasn't anything wrong with her.

"I thought my baby would just latch on and it would be the most natural thing in the world," says Franke. "But for some women, it's not like that and we need help even though it can be hard to ask ... You feel like you should just have the 'mom gene' that naturally fixes everything."

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of life and then supplemented breast feeding for up to one or two years or more. Many moms choose to breast feed their infants into their toddler years or beyond for reasons of health and attachment.

The Milwaukee County Breast Feeding Coalition is an action-based group dedicated to promoting, supporting and protecting breast feeding in the community. The purpose of the coalition is to bring community members together to decide how to help the community support breast feeding mothers and babies.


Talkbacks

JudyLL | July 28, 2009 at 11:12 a.m. (report)

I have no problem with women breastfeeding; it is natural and provides needed nutrition. I do not feel it should be done in public, however. It is a personal, private matter and we are not talking about animals in the wild; we are talking about people, about women. I just don't think it is necessary for a woman to breastfeed in public; no matter how far we have come, it is still disruptive, and perhaps there are even health issues to consider. I wouldn't want to be at a food court or restaurant and have someone begin breastfeeding. I'm probably old fashioned about this, but I think it is a private matter between mother and child and not for public display. Good luck with the walk; hope you raise lots of money.

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