Freeman Hospital receives a grant to help develop the Southwest Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition to educate women on the benefits of putting down the baby bottle. The new coalition is a joint effort with Mercy Hospital and the City of Joplin, and hopes to raise breastfeeding rates over the next three years.
New mom Stephanie Nixon always felt that breastfeeding her son Dalton was the natural thing to do, but that didn't stop her from looking at other options.
"I did some research and formula babies are more likely to be overweight, more likely to have long term health issues than breast fed babies and that just reinforced my decision that I wanted to breast feed anyway," says Nixon.
Breastfeeding levels in Missouri are lower than the national average and that's why Freeman thought it was important to have vital information available for moms-to-be.
"A lot of it is just education," says Project Coordinator Cathy Brown. "Breastfeeding isn't seen as a norm. A lot of women see it as an additional way to feed a child but not the normal way to feed a child."
Breast milk awareness is becoming a national trend. New York City's mayor has even suggested putting formula under lock and key to prevent new mothers from using it.
But lactation specialist Dee Alejandro says that's not necessary.
"Wince the nurses don't give formula unless it's ordered, or unless mom asks for it, I really don't think there is a need to lock it up," says Alejandro.
According to the hospital newborns should be solely breast feed for the first six months of life.
Breast Feeding Awareness month starts August 1. Supporters across the nation will use the month to educate the public about the benefits of breast milk, even if takes some getting used to.