Breastfeeding & Lactation
In 2007, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) declared breastfeeding to be “the preferred method of feeding newborns and infants.” ACOG also recommended the breastfeeding of infants until they’re 6 months of age, “with longer periods being beneficial.” Studies have shown that mother’s milk possesses all of the essential nutrients that a baby needs to grow and enhance brain development. In addition to providing babies with necessary nutrients that are vital to development, breastfeeding also offers mothers several benefits as well. The Women, Infants and Children program provides lactation support, education and assistance to breastfeeding families.
The aim of the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program is to dispel myths or unreasoned fears and to provide accurate information that supports those who want to breastfeed. In addition to the program nutritionists and nurses that are trained as breastfeeding educators, WIC also utilizes peer counselors to enhance the program.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Below are just a few of the many benefits of breastfeeding your child.
Breast Milk is Made for Human Babies
- Breast milk has all the necessary nutrients for proper growth in correct amounts.
- Breast milk digests easily (No constipation, less colic)
- Nutritional composition of Breast milk changes as the baby's nutritional needs change - even within a single feeding.
Breast Milk Promotes Good Health
- Provides antibodies and protects against infection (This includes urinary tract, respiratory, intestinal and ear infections.)
- Lowers the rate of hospitalization and sickness
- Speeds recovery during illness
- Reduces the risk of allergies
Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of Disease
- Reduces the risk of overfeeding, as well as risk for childhood and adult obesity
- Reduces the risk of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
- Reduces the risk of intestinal diseases (Including Crohn's and celiac)
- Reduces the risk of iron-deficiency anemia, as iron is well absorbed
Breastfeeding Promotes Physical Development
- Hand-eye coordination
- Jaw, teeth and speech development
- Brain growth
Breastfeeding Provides Emotional Benefits
- Immediate satisfaction
- Close physical contact with mother and promotes security / bonding
- Creates positive mother association − baby knows mother through all senses
- Comforts when baby is ill
Breastfeeding Promotes Good Health for Mothers
- Reduces the risk of post-birth hemorrhaging
- Improves bone density
- Aids in natural weight loss
- Reduces the risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers
Breastfeeding is Convenient
- Night feedings are easier
- Saves time and money
- Milk is always available (Important in emergencies)
- No mixing or storing is required (Decreases the risk of errors in preparation)
- Easier to travel
Breastfeeding Offers Emotional Benefits
- Increases self-confidence
- Increases perception of baby's needs
- Enhances bonding
- Ensures close physical contact
- Relaxes mother through production of hormone prolactin
Breastfeeding Promotes Family Togetherness
- Baby has sweet smell, and bowel movements are not offensive
- Breast milk has less odor and less staining
- Family saves money, due to:
- No need for formula, or baby food, for first 6 months
- Fewer health care costs, as baby is sick less often
For more information and tips on breastfeeding, please visit Women's Health.org.
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