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Physical Therapy: What It's All About

October is National Physical Therapy Month. The month long celebration is used to increase awareness of the valuable role physical therapists and physical therapy assistants can play in assisting people with decreased pain, improved mobility, and improved lifestyles. Ben Benesh, Physical Therapist at Aurora Health Care states, “Physical therapy is a conservative approach to treat patient ailments. It’s an alternative approach to surgery or pharmaceuticals. Physical therapy can improve musculoskeletal and neurological functions.” A physical therapist can help with arthritis, back pain, fitness, knee pain, obesity, osteoporosis, overuse injuries, shoulder pain, stroke rehabilitation, sprains, strains, fractures, and much more. 

A physical therapist is someone who applies research and proven techniques to help restore motion to a patient. All physical therapists have a graduate degree – either a master’s degree or a clinical doctorate – from an accredited physical therapy program. They are then required to complete a national and state licensure examination. Physical therapists can provide care for people in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, schools, outpatient clinics, sports and fitness facilities, nursing homes and work settings. “The role of a physical therapist is to reduce pain and restore functional mobility. Physical therapists are experts in movement that specialize in musculoskeletal injuries,” explains Benesh. “Physical therapy assistants are the only other licensed health care providers that render physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist.” Physical therapy assistants also complete clinical education through an associate degree program and also have to pass a state and national licensure examination. Physical therapy assistants often provide services such as therapeutic exercise, functional training, deep soft tissue massage, and physical modalities such as electrotherapy and ultrasound.
Everyone can benefit from physical therapy. Aging adults can use physical therapy programs for fall risk management, improved balance and increased strength. “Osteoarthritis, specific to the knee and shoulder, a physical therapist can have a great impact without surgical intervention,” states Benesh.  The American Physical Therapy Association states that people are often referred to a physical therapist for rehabilitation from a major medical trauma or surgery, however research suggests that treatment by a physical therapist is often equally effective, and cheaper, than surgery and prescription drugs.  Most states allow a patient to make an appointment with a physical therapist without a direct referral from their physician. “If the patient is not a good candidate for physical therapy, the physical therapist would refer the patient on to the appropriate health care professional,” explains Benesh.

Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh Physical Therapy department offers the following services:
  • Running analysis
  • Concussion management
  • Vestibular rehabilitation
  • TMJ therapy
  • Neurological rehabilitation
  • Orthopedic rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Cancer program
  • Osteoporosis program
  • Spine rehabilitation
“Physical therapy is an individualized evaluation of a multitude of ailments,” adds Benesh. “It is our hope to establish a comprehensive program the patient can carry on for the duration of their life for preventive health and general health maintenance.”

Benesh concludes, “People should consider having a physical therapist like they have any other health care provider such as a dentist, primary care physician or chiropractor.” To learn more about how physical therapy can benefit you, contact Aurora Health Care at 303-8700.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities and health systems to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells become abnormal and form more cells in an uncontrolled way. The cancer begins in the tissue that makes up the breast and the cancer cells may form a mass called a tumor; however, not all tumors are cancerous. The most common types of cancer are ductal and lobular. Ductal carcinoma is cancer that begins in the ducts and grows into surrounding tissues.  About 80 percent of all breast cancers are this type. Lobular carcinoma is cancer that begins in lobules and grows into surrounding tissues.

Men and women should know what their breasts normally look and feel like so they can report any unusual changes to their doctor. Breast cancer symptoms include: a lump in or near your breast or under your arm; thick or firm tissue in or near your breast or under your arm; a change in the size or shape or your breast; nipple discharge (not breast milk); nipple changes, such as nipple inversion; and/or changes to your breast skin.

Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as exercise boosts the immune system and helps keep people at a healthy weight.  Thirty minutes of exercise per day can begin to lower risk of breast cancer. A nutritious, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. High-fat diets increase risk because fat triggers estrogen production which can fuel tumor growth. Recent research has also confirmed that smoking is a contributor for developing breast cancer, as is secondhand smoke.  Stress can also play a role in developing some cancers.  In 2012, research studies showed that factors such as traumatic events and losses can alter a person’s immune system functions, and when immune systems are altered, cancer cells may have a greater opportunity to get establish themselves in the body. The research also showed that how a person handles the stress can also play a role.

The American College of Radiology recommends women receive a baseline mammogram at the age of 40 and continue to do so every year as long as they are in good health. Breast cancer screening looks for signs of cancer before the symptoms begin. Screening can help with early detection, when the change for successful treatment is best. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. A clinical breast exam is when the doctor looks at and feels the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual. These are typically done when a women receives her annual exam.

Current treatment options for breast cancer vary depending on the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, type of breast cancer you have, whether or not you have reached menopause, and a person’s general health.  Surgery is the most common treatment, as the goal of surgery is to remove all cancer from the breast. Some women will need to undergo a lumpectomy, in which only the cancer is removed, not the breast. Others will have to undergo a mastectomy, where the entire breast is removed. Other forms of treatments typically combined with surgery include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. 

Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh now offers Breast tomosynthesis or 3D mammography which is a computerized imaging technology that can be added to traditional digital mammography. It creates image slices of the breast. The use of tomosynthesis helps the radiologist resolve the difficulty of detecting small, early malignancies in the more dense, more complex breast, particularly in younger patients. In addition, the use of tomosynthesis has shown to decrease the call-back of patients for questionable findings in such breasts seen on screening exams.

If you or someone you know has just finished treatments for breast cancer, the LIVESTRONG™ program at the YMCA is an excellent resource. LIVESTRONG™ at the YMCA is a twelve-week, small group program designed specifically for adult cancer survivors. The program fulfills the need of supporting cancer survivors who find themselves in the transition between cancer treatment and feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to return to their normal life or their “new normal”. The program is conducted at the YMCA to emphasize that LIVESTRONG™ is about health, not disease. For more information about the LIVESTRONG™ at the YMCA program, call the Oshkosh YMCA or visit the Livestrong website at www.livestrong.org.

Fruits and Veggies Month

The Produce for Better Health Foundation recognizes September as Fruits and Veggies month. The PBHF recommends every person make fruits and veggies about half of what you eat, every time you eat.  Combined with physical activity, eating the right amount of fruits and veggies can keep your family healthy and going strong.

Fruits and vegetables offer a magnitude of health benefits including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Research also suggests that fruits and vegetables contain compounds that play a role in preventing certain cancers as well as heart disease and stroke. By eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, a person will receive the most all-around health benefits. 

Red fruits and vegetables contain nutrients such as lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin.  These nutrients reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol levels and support joint tissue. Common red fruits and vegetables include beets, cherries, cranberries, radishes, raspberries, red grapes, red potatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon.    

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C.  These nutrients lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce age-related macular generation and the risk of prostate cancer, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones. Yellow and orange favorites include butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, organs, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkin, and sweet corn. 

Green vegetables contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene.  These nutrients reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, and boost the immune system. Green fruits and vegetables include asparagus, avocados, broccoli, green grapes, lettuce, peas, spinach, kiwifruit, peas, and zucchini.

Blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid and quercetin.  These nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost the immune system, support healthy digestion, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, and improve calcium and other mineral absorption. Familiar blue and purple fruits and vegetables are blackberries, eggplant, grapes, plums, pomegranates, purple cabbage and blueberries.   

White fruits and vegetables contain nutrients such as beta-glucans and liganans that provide immune boosting activity. These nutrients activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels. White fruits and vegetables include bananas, cauliflower, dates, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, and onions.

A cheaper method of eating fresh fruits and vegetables is to grow your own.  Home-grown produce has all the nutritional benefits and it costs a lot less.  For your own garden, choose the most flavorful and color variety of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are good for your budget and good for your body. 

National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Each year on the first day of fall, national organizations from the Falls Free Coalition and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) join together for National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day of action to help raise awareness and prevention of falls in Oshkosh. On Friday, September 22, the Oshkosh Community YMCA is asking older adults, caregivers, family members and health care professionals in Oshkosh to unite to raise awareness to prevent falls among older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an older adult in the U.S. is treated in the ER for a fall-related injury every 14 seconds and dies from a fall-related injury every 29 minutes. Additionally, falls put an immense strain on the health care system, with the financial toll expected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020. The good news is falls are preventable, and the first step to prevention is understanding risk. With a focus on healthy aging, the Y is committed to helping older adults learn their fall risk and access programs that can help them reduce their risk for falls.
“Falling and fear of falling may can prevent older adults from staying active, which leads to reduced mobility, diminished quality of life and actually increases their risk of falling,” said Rich Roehrick, 20th Ave YMCA Health and Wellness Director. “The good news is that falls are highly preventable and help is available for older adults and their families who want to get active but don’t know how.”
As a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health for all families, the Oshkosh YMCA encourages older adults to learn their risk for falls by taking a fall risk test at http://www.ymca.net/health-wb-fitness/.
Once risk is assessed, the Oshkosh YMCA is helping older adults feel strong, steady and safe by reducing fall risk through programs like Senior Cycling, Senior CORE, Senior Pilates, Chair Yoga, Water Fitness, stretching and balance classes and much more!
The CDC suggests these basic lifestyle and safety changes to help reduce risk or prevent falls:
  • Begin an exercise program to improve your leg strength & balance.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines.
  • Get annual eye check-ups & update your eyeglasses.
  • Make your home safer by:
    • Removing clutter & tripping hazards.
    • Putting railings on all stairs & adding grab bars in the bathroom.
    • Installing proper lighting, especially on stairs.
To learn more about the Oshkosh YMCA’s Active Older Adult programs and classes visit www.oshkoshymca.org or call 920-236-3380.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

The Oshkosh Community YMCA wants families in Oshkosh to understand how adopting healthy habits can help reduce childhood obesity. September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support changing their families’ habits with the ultimate goal of being a healthy weight. That’s why the Oshkosh YMCA—a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health—wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity has remained stable at about 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some cancers. Here in Wisconsin, 31 percent of all children are considered overweight or obese, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“Successfully lowering obesity rates in children requires the whole family to change their eating and physical activity habits,” said Ben Wanezek, Oshkosh YMCA Downtown Health and Wellness Director. “Kids learn unhealthy habits at home, and many parents or caregivers don’t realize how the choices they make affects those who look up to them.”

“Additionally, if families don’t know how to get started, reaching out to your health care provider or organizations like the Y that provide support are great first steps.”

The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:
  • Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family choose a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together.  Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals, and allow children to pour their own water.
  • Play Every Day/Go Outside: Children should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity. Join your children in games that get your hearts pumping and bodies moving.
  • Get Together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible. Involve kids in meal planning, preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-to-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
  • Reduce Recreational Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours or less per day. Make a family plan to reduce screen time at home (i.e. turn off screens during meals, go for a walk after a meal, set a timer to remind you to power down the screen).
  • Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule; unwind together in the evenings by reading a book or listening to soft music to ensure the body is preparing for sleep. Kids are growing and need 10-12 hours of healthy sleep per night and seven to eight hours for adults.

In addition to being healthy at home, there is a need to maintain healthy habits while attending out-of-school programs. To create healthy environments for all children the Oshkosh YMCA is implementing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards in our before and after school programs. Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice for your child while he or she is in our care.

To foster your child’s health, the Y strives to:   
  • Provide a fruit and/or vegetable at all meals and snacks.
  • Only provide low-fat milk and water as beverages.
  • Set limits on screen time.
  • Provide daily physical activity (outdoors when possible).
  • Adults model healthy food and beverage choices and active play.
  • Provide parent/caregiver education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

To learn more about the Oshkosh Community YMCA, go to www.oshkoshymca.org.

Sleep Health

“Sleep hygiene” is a term used to describe practices that are sleep-friendly. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, review this checklist to see if any of these factors may be causing or worsening the problem. 

Is your bedroom a sleep-friendly area? Minimize noise, light and excessive room temperatures when preparing for sleep. If you’re having trouble with sleep, experts recommend eliminating activities in the bedroom that can distract you, such as watching TV, reading, eating, or working. Do those activities elsewhere in the home. If you can’t fall asleep in 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity in another room until you become sleepy.

Do you keep a regular pattern of bedtime and waking? Waking up at about the same time of day helps retiring at bedtime be more predictable.

Do you limit your intake of caffeine? Caffeine disrupts sleep because it’s a stimulant. Caffeine is not only in coffee and tea, but also in some soft drinks, medications, and foods. Avoid caffeine after lunch and cut down on your total daily use to help avoid being too stimulated at bedtime.

Do you smoke cigarettes near bedtime or during sleep hours?  Nicotine is a stimulant that may “trigger” your body to remain alert.

Do you drink alcoholic beverages late in the evening? While alcohol may help some people feel relaxed, it can actually disrupt sleep later in the night.

Do you eat heavy meals too close to bedtime? Heavy meals may make lying down feel uncomfortable. Try a light snack instead, which may help induce sleep.

Do you do vigorous exercise within three to four hours of bedtime? Regular exercise is essential for good health, but if done too late in the evening, it may interfere with sleep. Exercising in the late afternoon, however, can help deepen sleep.

Do you take naps frequently? Avoid napping during late afternoons or evenings. If you must nap, do so early in the afternoon and limit the nap to 30 minutes.

Are you feeling anxious about not getting enough sleep? Worrying about not being able to get enough sleep and spending too much time in bed attempting to “get more rest” can make insomnia worse.

Do you work shift work? Working the night shift often has the potential to seriously disrupt your “body clock”. Often, companies that schedule shift work offer training on how to adjust to sleeping when it is daylight, or when family activities and other interruptions can make sleep difficult.

Shape up your habits and practice good sleep hygiene. Your sleep health is an important part of your overall health.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a treatable condition. It’s hard to acknowledge that you or your loved one may have a problem. Often times people feel like it’s a character weakness or be too embarrassed to talk about it. Substance abuse is a serious health condition.

Substance abuse can be a life-threatening condition. People would seek care immediately for most life-threatening conditions, but unfortunately, substance abuse stigmas stop many people from seeking treatment, especially if you feel it could jeopardize your career or make you less of a role model for your family or kids. People can seek treatment for substance use too, and they can beat it, they might just need a little help.

There are many licensed experts to assist. Calling a helpline can put you in contact with a licensed care specialist who can listen to and understand your situation. They can arrange a face-to-face evaluation by an expert, who will create a personalized care strategy to help begin the journey to recovery. Experts in dealing with substance abuse can even assign family with a dedicated Care Advocate who will provide support for up to six months after treatment.

On Saturday, September 9, re:Th!nk of Winnebago County is hosting an Addiction Run/Walk to benefit the Solutions Recovery center, Nova Counseling Center, and the D.A.R.E. program. The event will take place at the Solutions Recovery Center in Oshkosh and includes a 7-mile run, 5K run/walk, and 1 miles walk. 

Facilities like Nova Counseling Center in Oshkosh provide support and encouragement for those needing help with substance abuse. Nova supports the Oshkosh community by providing a 50 bed residential facility for adult men and women with substance abuse problems. Ten of those beds are for a halfway house, the Terra House. Nova also has a mentoring program that is facilitated by staff for Drug Court participants and recovering people at Solutions Recovery Club.  Participants from the Terra halfway house and mentor program help out in the community by providing community service hours at many local businesses. 

Do you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse? It can be very hard to watch someone you care for on a path towards self-destruction. You may fear that expressing your concern will appear nagging and make things worse. You can make a difference by asking for advice on how to help from facilities like Solutions and Nova. Addiction is a brain disease that affects people spiritually, mentally, and physically. Facility treatment centers provide a safe place for people to heal from addiction at the beginning of their journey. Licensed care experts can help advise you on how to start talking to your loved one about getting help. It may be a tough call on when to step in, however tackling addiction is a team effort and your intervention could save someone’s life.

For more information on the Addiction Run/Walk, visit www.dutrirun.com or register for the event at www.active.com. For more information about Nova Counseling Center or Solutions Recovery Center, visit their websites at www.novaoshkosh.com and www.sri-wi.org.

YMCA Afterschool Care

A new school year is filled with potential—a chance to start new routines and habits, build new friendships and discover new possibilities and interests. It’s an exciting time for many kids, however—at the end of the school day, 11.3 million kids head to homes where they are unsupervised form 3 to 6 p.m. according to Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness organization. As children transition from summer to fall, the Oshkosh Community YMCA is offering programs to school-aged children throughout the Oshkosh Area School District to keep youth active, busy and engaged during out-of-school time. Through a well-rounded approach to youth development, the Y’s program offers activities in a caring and safe environment during the critical hours after school. Whether through sports, mentorship, or academic support, the Y nurture the potential of youth throughout the school year.

 “One in five children do not have someone to care for them after school, an essential time to help increase children’s success in school,” said Erin Baranek, School Age Director at the Oshkosh Community YMCA. “Afterschool at the Y is an opportunity for families to ensure their kids are receiving additional support, continued learning and a chance to participate in meaningful activities that can inspire children’s motivations and abilities to succeed.”

The Y is a leading nonprofit committed to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, supporting their social-emotional, cognitive and physical development from birth to career. In the Oshkosh YMCA’s  afterschool program youth receive help with homework and can also explore music, art, outside physical activity, group games, science and nature. Financial assistance is available to those in need, to ensure every child and teen has the opportunity to learn and grow at the Y.

The Oshkosh YMCA employs Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in our afterschool programs that help build a healthier future for our nation’s children by encouraging healthy eating habits, limiting screen time and providing physical activity to keep every child healthy.

For more information about the Oshkosh YMCA’s afterschool program, please contact Erin Baranek at erinbaranek@oshkoshymca.org or call 920-236-3380.

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Why do healthier foods always seem to cost more? Is it possible to maintain a nutritious diet on a reasonable budget? The short answer….it is! Here are a few tips to help you stay health conscious and on budget.

Buy and cook in bulk. At warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, you can buy many items in bulk for much less. After buying in bulk, separate and freeze if needed. Spend a little time cooking dishes on the weekends that you can eat during the week, or freeze and use at a later date. A big bowl of bean soup or chili can be dinner as well as lunch for the next day or two. This saves on expensive frozen dinners, trips to the cafeteria, and last-minute detours to the drive-thru.

Manage meat options by looking for healthy meat, poultry and fish on sale and freeze for later use to reduce waste. Also, consider swapping more expensive meats for other sources of protein, like beans, tofu, or eggs.

Be season-savvy by using seasonal fruits and vegetables, as they taste the best and are often much less pricey than imported out-of-season varieties. You can also look for lower-priced produce in the supermarket. It is usually one a day or two old, but much less expensive. Try visiting local farmer’s markets, where produce is often cheap and fresh.

Don’t be afraid to go generic. Sometimes generic or private label store brands have the same ingredients that the big brand name products have, but because they aren’t paying the high advertising costs the big brands are, they can charge less. In some cases, the same manufacturers produce both the generic products and the brand name.

Menu planning can help reduce perishable product waste. Head to the store with a good idea of the meals you want to make for the week. Research shows that shoppers without a list tend to buy more food, especially snacks and impulse items.

Try to limit junk food. Junk food and prepared frozen foods can often add up to be the most expensive things in your cart. Trade the money you normally would spend on these items for fresh produce or healthy snacks. And try to avoid going to the store hungry, when it’s more difficult to resist temptation.

You can eat healthy without breaking the bank, it just takes a game plan and a little creativity.  

Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. A mother’s breast milk has numerous health benefits for both mom and baby. To begin with, it’s naturally produced to be the perfect nutrition for your baby, with disease-fighting antibodies. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months of life, and then combining breast milk with the introduction of complimentary foods until baby is at least 12 months. The World Health Organization recommends even longer – through at least the age of two. Rachel Juckem RN, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant at Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh states, “Breastfeeding has many benefits. It helps protect babies against asthma, childhood obesity, diarrhea, respiratory infections, ear infections, SIDS, and some childhood cancers.”

Here are just a few benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby:
  • Colostrum is like liquid gold. Colostrum is the thick yellow breast milk that is made during pregnancy and shortly after birth. It’s extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies to help protect your baby and build his or her immune system.
  • Breast milk provides the perfect nutrition.  A mother’s body naturally produces the perfect proportions of fat, carbohydrates, and protein every time your baby nurses. It even changes with your growing baby’s needs. Breast milk also provides crucial antibodies that can actually fight disease and lower the risk of your baby developing all kinds of diseases and chronic illnesses later in life.
  • Breast feeding satisfies a baby’s emotional needs.  The closeness of breastfeeding your baby promotes crucial bonding and skin-to-skin contact which is important for emotional and social development. Plus, it releases endorphins, which act as a natural soother and pain suppressant for baby.
  • Breastfeeding is associated with a higher IQ.  The latest study to support this was done in New Zealand, where an 18-year longitudinal study found that children who were breastfed had better intelligence and greater academic achievement.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of post-partum depression and stimulates healing.  It was reported in a study published in the journal Maternal and Child Health that breastfeeding can cut the risk of post-partum depression in half.  Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother’s body. Often known as the “feel good” hormone, oxytocin also stimulates contractions, which cause the uterus to shrink more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. This also shuts off the maternal blood-vessels that formerly fed the baby and discourages excessive bleeding.
  • Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower type of Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation – resulting in a lower risk of these tissues becoming cancerous. 
  • Breastfeeding costs less and is more convenient.  Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year, depending on how much your baby eats. Breastfed babies are also sick less often, resulting in fewer missed days at work and lower health care costs.
Unfortunately, America is the one of the few developed countries without a law ensuring new mothers receive paid maternity leave. For some women, returning to work is often cited as the reason why they choose not to breastfeed, or to only breastfeed for a short time.

Through the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), large employers (more than 50 employees) are now required to provide moms and babies younger than 12 months with a reasonable break time for pumping, and a private place to pump, other than a bathroom. Another result of the law was for most benefits plans to provide pregnant or post-partum women with comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider, during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period. 
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