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The Madison County Health Department held its annual Breastfeeding Bash Aug. 5 to celebrate, promote and encourage breastfeeding.

The month of August is National Breastfeeding Month, and the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week.

Madison County Health Department WIC Coordinator Alica White said the Breastfeeding Bash event is a fun way to encourage all moms and show new moms and society breastfeeding should be the norm.

"We want to show our support to all the moms who do what is best for baby by breastfeeding and providing all the benefits the baby gets from breast milk," White said. "The Breastfeeding Bash is a fun way that we celebrate these moms on the hard work and effort they have done into trying or being a breastfeeding mom." 

This year's event featured a Candy Land theme and included free pizza, cupcakes, face painting and giveaways for both moms and children.

"We want it to be a big party and something fun for the mothers and their children to enjoy and feel proud of themselves," White said. "It also lets moms see there are a lot of mothers who breastfeed and they have a support system."

White said breastfeeding is one of the most natural and healthy things you do for your baby. She said breast milk contains more than 200 nutrients plus special factors that protect the baby's health.

"The mothers benefit as well with women who breastfeed often losing their pregnancy weight faster, it reduces their risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer and reduces their risk of osteoporosis," White said. "Parents also save an average of $1,000 in infant feeding costs, and one of the best things is that it develops a special bond between mother and child that you can't explain in words." 

Amber McCutcheon, mother of 11 with another on the way, shared her story. She said it is not always easy, and every mother and every child are different.

"With my older ones I was not a confident momma and it was very stressful for me," McCutcheon said. "I had taken on a lot of opinions of what others said, and I went more for convenience and I did formula with my first three for sure."

McCutcheon said by the time she got to her fifth child, she was more confident as a mother and she stuck with breastfeeding. She said she loves all her children but noticed how much breastfeeding increased the bond she had with them.

"The bond is such a beautiful thing," McCutcheon said. "It makes you stop and take time with your child whereas I think we live in such a busy world that it's easy to pass that baby off with a bottle to somebody else."

McCutcheon also said not to breastfeed while on the phone, because part of the experience is making a connection with your child. She said multitasking teaches the child from a very early age that mom is disconnected.

"I noticed that health issue-wise, the kids that were not breastfed had more health issues than the kids that were," McCutcheon said. "I have learned as I have gotten older and breastfed my babies more is that one of the reasons my breastfed babies didn’t have to have antibiotics is that because the way that we are created is that our milk actually starts making the antibiotics and so that is an amazing thing that they have less infections because your body is already producing it."

McCutcheon said there are many reasons to breastfeed and the benefits outweigh the cons all the time but also wants mothers to know that every situation is unique.

"With my youngest one right now, I breastfed him around three months and he just wasn't gaining weight so we started supplementing," McCutcheon said. "In this situation some mommas feel like they failed. Well what momma wouldn't do what was best regardless of what it was, so I accepted that I can do both, formula to help gain weight and breastfeeding for the health benefits."

McCutcheon said it is not a fail and that no one should compare herself to everybody else.

"That is the hardest part because women we look over and see what everyone else is doing," McCutcheon said. "We are all hot messes.We just have different messes." 

The Madison County Health Department wishes to thank all of the workers and volunteers who made the event possible including Calvary Church, the McCutcheon Family, Cap America, Black River Electric, The Pig, New Era Bank, Great Southern Bank, Olympic Steak House, Wally's Seafood, Pizza Hut, Casey's, Dairy Bar, Dominos, Country Lane Florist, Private Donors, P&G, ADK Strategy Group, Fredericktown Parents As Teachers, University of Missouri-Extension Office, Hope, and Embrace Grace.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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