Efforts to get more Indiana mothers to nurse their babies are paying off.
Breastfeeding rates are rising in the United States, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with an estimated 63 percent of moms in Indiana now at least starting with nursing. However, despite the increase, breastfeeding counselor Megan Raymont of Indianapolis said mothers still face challenges nursing in public places.
"I think if it were happening more often, people wouldn't feel awkward," she said. "It's not a sexual act; it's just a mom feeding her baby."
Raymont said breastfeeding is beneficial in many ways. Some studies show mothers who breastfeed can reduce their risk for diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and some forms of cancer. For babies, it can build a stronger immune system and better motor development, and result in fewer allergies.
Not all women are able to breastfeed or want to, and it's a decision to be made by the mother.
While breastfeeding may seem as though it should come naturally, many new moms struggle in the beginning. Raymont said mother-to-mother support groups are a great place to get help.
"A lot of times, those questions and difficulties can be worked through and answered by fellow moms who are also breastfeeding," she said. "If you have more challenging questions, you can meet with a breastfeeding counselor."