By Chrystal Smith (IMCOM)July 30, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany - An age-old feeding practice is raising eyebrows and drawing curious stares in some military communities.
And while such sights initially seem out of the ordinary to unsuspecting bystanders, participants say, don't be alarmed, it's natural and great for babies.
Breast-feeding is gradually making a comeback in communities around the world because mothers are realizing the health benefits for babies and themselves.
Locally, the New Parent Support Program and mothers are gearing up to heighten the community's awareness of breast-feeding in celebration of World Breast-feeding Week Aug. 1-7.
"Breast milk is the best milk," said Barbara Dudenhoeffer, NPSP home visitor and international board-certified lactation consultant.
Dudenhoeffer said studies have shown that babies who are fed breast milk exclusively during the first six months are more resilient and are less often sick, and have a lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and one year.
"A lot of breast-fed infants and toddlers have less illness," she said, adding that "it's proven to decrease the risk of breast cancer."
Even mothers benefit in different ways by nursing and expressing milk. Nursing not only has a number of health advantages, but it also proves to be less costly for families.
"It saves families about $2,000 in the first year alone," said Lois Farmer, NPSP home visitor and certified lactation counselor.
The NPSP recognizes that some mothers and mothers-to-be are seeking information on breast-feeding, so the awareness campaign kicks off with "Off to the Best Start" event on Aug. 1 in the Army Community Service cafeteria from 2-4 p.m. and information booths Aug. 4-7 to spread the word of community resources and other information about breast-feeding.
"The campaign will focus on facilitating actions to protect, promote and support breast-feeding," said Dudenhoeffer.
Already available in the community is a breast-feeding support group for local mothers. "Breast Friends" -- a breast-feeding support group that offers mothers a chance to learn more about the ins and out of breast-feeding from a certified lactation consultant while socializing with others -- meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, from 10-11 a.m. in Hainerberg Housing.