Did you know that August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month? During this month, the United States and even other countries around the world promote and support breastfeeding and breastfeeding education.
Benefits for babies
Nursing your baby is natural and is the best source of nutrition in most cases. Interestingly, a mother’s milk changes to meet her baby’s needs. Isn’t that amazing? Breastfed babies tend to be at lower risk for asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and also sudden infant death syndrome. They are also less likely to develop ear infections and have stomach viruses. Babies who receive breastmilk are associated with higher IQ scores. Human milk also shares antibodies that the mother has developed with her baby. And studies have shown even more benefits for breastfed babies than mentioned above, proving how breastmilk truly is best for most babies.
Benefits for mothers
Along with so many benefits for baby, a little-known fact is that breastfeeding also highly benefits mothers. Moms who breastfeed have less risk of breast and ovarian cancer. These mothers also reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure amongst other health benefits. A breastfeeding mom can breastfeed anywhere and anytime without having to worry about mixing formula or preparing bottles.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that a baby is exclusively breastfed for six months, and then continues to breastfeed while introducing complementary foods until the child is at least 12 months old. There are a few situations in which a baby cannot be breastfed and those circumstances should be discussed with your healthcare provider.
If you have decided to breastfeed, it is best to start right away as soon as your baby is born as long as there are no medical issues preventing you from doing so. It may take a few weeks for mom and baby to find the best breastfeeding position and correct latch, so be patient as you both learn together. Breastfeeding should never be painful with a proper latch. It should be a comfortable time of bonding and enjoying your baby.
Appalachian Breastfeeding Network supports breastfeeding moms statewide
If you have questions about breastfeeding, or to learn more, contact your healthcare provider or you may also contact the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network at www.appalachianbreastfeedingnetwork.org. This network is funded by the Ohio Department of Health and specialists are available 24/7 for all of your breastfeeding-related questions.
Janessa Williamson, RN, is the health educator and breastfeeding coordinator at Fayette County Public Health.