For many moms, breast is best

A mom may spend a lot of time at the doctor’s office or the emergency room dealing with a whole list of childhood ailments and broken bones.

But some moms who start breastfeeding soon after birth say doing so means fewer doctor visits.

Amanda Tanzey, 39, of Vienna, W.Va., said she nursed all her four children for at least a year after they were born. She plans to do the same with No. 5, Lucien, who arrived just two weeks ago.

“My 19-year-old son only had an antibiotic because of a spider bite,” Tanzey said. “They’ve never been sick. Everyone has an exceptional IQ.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 11 percent of babies born in Ohio in 2012 were being exclusively breastfed at 6 months old, while the rate in West Virginia came in at 9.1 percent.

To increase awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and to help mothers feel more comfortable with the practice, Mama*ology is sponsoring a local observance of the global two-day Big Latch On with a one-day event at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Full Circle Yoga, 1515 Grand Central Ave., in Vienna. Across the globe, women and their babies will gather in their own communities to participate in the synchronized breastfeeding event. Mama*ology is a Mid-Ohio Valley outreach group that provides, education, resources and support throughout pregnancy, birth and parenting.

World Breastfeeding Week is observed Aug. 1 through 7.

A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Pediatrics found the longer mothers exclusively breastfed their babies, the better those children did at age 3 on a vocabulary test, and at age 7 on an intelligence test.

Breastfeeding a baby for a year would be expected to mean an increase in IQ of about four points, the researchers found. Put another way, at age 7, the benefit of breastfeeding was 0.35 points per month on the verbal scale and 0.29 points on the nonverbal scale, according to the study.

Though breastfeeding can be challenging in some cases, it’s recommended if possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Breast milk is rich in nutrients and antibodies and easier to digest for babies than formula.

Breast milk also helps fight disease and health problems including asthma, lower respiratory infections, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, according to the federal department.

Saturday’s local event will include a meet and greet, a potluck with door prizes, information table and several members of the local birth and parenting community on hand.

“We are hoping for 25 to 50,” said Nichole Raber, Mama*ology board president. “Some of the events held globally have hundreds coming.”

Raber said those organizing the event hope to break 2012’s worldwide record of 9,862 mothers breastfeeding their babies for one minute from 10:30 to 10:31 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The first Big Latch On took place in 2005 in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“I hope it creates an awareness there’s a breastfeeding community in our area,” said breastfeeding mom Danielle Bergum, 28, of Ravenswood, W.Va.

Christine Marasco, 36, of Marietta, said she has been nursing and pregnant for the past 11 years, bringing into the world Christian, now 11; Francesca, 8, Valentina, 5; and Nicholas, 3. Nicholas was weaned just about three weeks ago.

“I can count on one hand how many times my kids have been in the doctor’s office,” Marasco said. “They’re freakishly healthy. Not a single ear infection. No respiratory disease. That was my form of health insurance.”

She also points out breast-feeding reduces her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.

“In this day and age, there is so much knowledge to be had,” Marasco said. “Women who breastfeed their babies now are so passionate of their choice.”