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Raising Awareness About Breastfeeding

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and even though breast feeding is legal in public in all 50 states, there's still a stigma associated with it.

According to the World Health Organization, breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants.

That's because it gives them all the nutrients they need for healthy development.

It's one of many reasons why Megan Schwalm does it, even in public.

Megan Schwalm says it's the most important job she has ever had; being a mommy, and when it comes to doing things that benefit her children, like breast feeding, she doesn't hesitate.

"For me it was just for nutrition really important. I also think it helps with bonding," she said.

While the CDC reports 80 percent of infants started breast feeding in 2011, Megan has still had her share of stare downs.

"Well I have told people that if it makes them uncomfortable, they are welcome to go somewhere else or they're welcome to put a blanket over their head while I feed her," she said.

The possible reason behind the objections, "I think it really comes down to the way we as a society objectify women. Women's breasts are seen more as a sex object than as anything else."

Megan says some areas are more progressive.

She's rarely had to deal with criticism in Iowa City where she lives.

We took a walk through the Ped Mall and most here say they are all for it.

"It doesn't bother me. I mean it's natural and why not," Jeff Gibble said.

"I think it's a completely natural phenomenon and I think it should be perfectly acceptable," said Martha Heitman.

For Megan, raising awareness is as simple as continuing to do what she's already doing.

"I think the more that women see other women breast feeding, the more they feel comfortable with it," she said.

Breastfeeding isn't just good for the child.

It's been shown to reduce the risks of breast and ovarian cancer for moms later in life.

While studies say it's the best way, breastfeeding isn't the only way to nurture a child. For moms who can't or who choose not to, baby formula is an option.
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