Special to TFW
Sixteen moms and 20 breastfed babies from Northwest Arkansas gathered at Terra Tots on School Avenue in Fayetteville last Thursday to show their support for breastfeeding — something that is natural, beneficial and fun, said several of the women. They said while Aug. 1 to 7 is World Breastfeeding Week, breastfeeding should always be an accepted practice in a society where extensive research, and mothers everywhere, agree on the benefits.
Research shows that infants who are breastfed for their first six months of life are much less likely to develop a wide range of diseases and conditions including ear infections, diarrhea, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and respiratory illnesses. Not breastfeeding can also affect mothers by increasing their risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Even later in life, individuals who were not breastfed are more likely to have health problems like diabetes and obesity.
While about 74 percent of newborns receive some breast milk in the U.S., in Arkansas the number drops to about 64 percent. Even fewer infants receive only breast milk in the early weeks and months of life, according to the U.S. Breastfeeding Report Card 2011. Using only breast milk in the early weeks and months of a baby’s life ensures both mothers and babies receive maximum health benefits, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Some Northwest Arkansas mothers got together on Aug. 3 to discuss and plan for a citywide breastfeeding friendly business initiative within Fayetteville. They’re developing a timeline and delegating steps, in order to “make a difference for … breastfeeding moms and babies.”