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During National Breastfeeding Month, get the 411 about breastfeeding

During National Breastfeeding Month, get the 411 about breastfeeding

August is National Breastfeeding Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and ways to support breastfeeding moms. If you’re expecting a new addition to your family, deciding whether or not to breastfeed may be on your pregnancy to-do list. Our East Jefferson General Hospital experts are here to break down the facts, so read on to make an informed choice.

Raising awareness about breastfeeding

Health organizations both in the United States and across the world raise awareness about breastfeeding in the month of August. The United States marks August as National Breastfeeding Month, while World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year August 1–7.

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week focuses on enabling working moms to breastfeed. Many women are unable to continue breastfeeding once they return to work, so health organizations are encouraged to advocate for paid leave and workplace breastfeeding support for new moms.

In the U.S., the reason for the awareness month is multifaceted. The Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health recognizes National Breastfeeding Month as an opportunity to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and share information and resources with pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Answering your questions about breastfeeding

There’s good reason to celebrate and encourage breastfeeding! Mom and baby both benefit. If you have questions about breastfeeding, though, you aren’t alone. Here are answers to some FAQs:

How do babies benefit from breastfeeding? Human milk provides babies with the nutrients they need in the months following birth.The benefits go beyond nutrition, though. Babies who are breastfed are at a lower risk of several medical conditions, including allergies, ear infections, respiratory infections and tummy troubles like diarrhea and vomiting. They’re also at a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome, childhood obesity and childhood leukemia.

How do mothers benefit from breastfeeding? There are many short- and long-term health benefits for moms, too. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin in the body, which stimulates the uterus to contract, leading to less postpartum bleeding. The oxytocin also helps naturally promote lower blood pressure. Women who breastfeed also have a lower risk of developing certain medical conditions, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.

How long should you breastfeed? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, but the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months of life. Both organizations also now recommend continuing to breastfeed, if possible, for two years or more.

Why is extended breastfeeding recommended? The benefits for mom and baby mentioned above are magnified when breastfeeding is continued for one year or longer. While breast milk contains all of a baby’s nutritional needs for six months, it still provides up to half of nutrients through age 1 and one-third of nutrients up to age 2. Beyond those benefits, breastfeeding can help boost the relationship and bonding between mama and little one.

What should I do if I have problems breastfeeding? You aren’t alone! Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn’t mean things will always go smoothly. That’s why East Jefferson General Hospital has a team of certified lactation consultants to help. They can work with you on any challenges you may encounter, including milk supply concerns, latching difficulties and plugged ducts. They receive specialty training related to breastfeeding techniques and can provide you with tips for making the experience easier and more successful for both you and your baby. A breastfeeding support group also meets regularly.

Your pregnancy and delivery experience are unique—and our care for you is, too. Learn more about the Women and Newborn Care team at East Jefferson General Hospital.