August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, created by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). This observance aims to increase awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding and help continue building support for breastfeeding across the globe.
According the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is recommended that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life and that breast feeding (mixed with other stages of solids) are continued until minimally 12 months. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients as well as antibodies that boosts a baby’s immune system and protects them from disease. Breastfeeding has also been proven to decrease the risk of several diseases, infections and conditions such as: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, eczema, type 2 diabetes and more. Improvement in breastfeeding practices could help save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 women worldwide. Breastfeeding is also an economical way to sustain life without waste and pollution that can come from packaging materials associated with formula feeding, reducing overall carbon footprint.
Overall, the rates of initial breastfeeding in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have continued to rise over the years, but the continuation of breastfeeding rates are not as high. Observances like World Breastfeeding week can help drive support for breastfeeding mothers thorough policy, the workplace and in the community. There are many sources where mothers can get support and education for breastfeeding: breastfeeding education classes, (from hospital staff after birth of a child), a lactation consultant who can do telephonic or in-home consults and/or local lactation support groups.
Some women choose not to or are unable to breastfeed because of work circumstances, medications or medical conditions, or difficulties with latching. In these cases, infant formula can support healthy babies who have typical dietary needs. There are also many brands of formula available including those specially designed to meet the needs of dietary concerns like allergies, colic, gas, and more. Be sure to discuss your infant’s nutritional needs with the pediatrician.
Breastfeeding Support Resources
- La Leche League – provides information, tips, articles and many resources to help mothers continue to successfully breastfeed.
- Womenshealth.gov – General women’s health information including breastfeeding, pregnancy, health topics, blog topics, and a variety of federal and web resources.
- ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) – Information for pre and postpartum, fact sheets, guidelines, and support resources.
Sources: Worldbreastfeedingweek.org, CDC, MayoClinic. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.