Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Seven Key Benefits of Breastfeeding Explained

This month marks National Breastfeeding Awareness month which is a global movement to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding by any woman anywhere, and at any time. This year’s theme is Sustaining Together. Initiating breastfeeding is not just a responsibility isolated to the nurse or lactation consultant or the parents. It really does take a community of support to help a mother begin and sustain breastfeeding. Everyone has a role to play. During both Breastfeeding Week and Breastfeeding Month, we at AWHONN want to get the whole family involved in the support of breastfeeding.

Often times we wonder what breastfeeding success means but there is no single definition. Breastfeeding success is what the woman and her family view as success. Mothers will develop a unique bond with their baby and quickly develop understanding of the baby’s cues and needs. Mothers should enlist the support of professionals when needed to reinforce breastfeeding education.

Breastfeeding can be intimidating to do at first, but with your family support system you can do it. Here are three points to consider when you start breastfeeding:

  1. Breastfeeding success is a family affair. Certainly, the mother is the one who is breastfeeding, but family support is critical to establishing breastfeeding success for the short and long term. Dad or partner, grand mom, siblings, you name it. It will take everyone to make breastfeeding successful.
  2. Don’t give up. Many new mothers hear that breastfeeding is natural. Sure, it is natural, but may not come naturally to new mothers. Breastfeeding takes practice and time to perfect.
  3. Know when to say when. Within the first few days and weeks after birth, many family members and visitors will want to greet you and your new baby. However, it is also important that your family and friends understand that you need to be allowed to get the rest you need to breastfeed successfully.

Breastfeeding is an important part of a newborn’s development and by utilizing these tips it can help enhance the breastfeeding experience. According to Healthy Mom&Baby, there are seven key benefits from breastfeeding. They include:

  1. More bonding: Skin-to-skin contact from birth and continuing during breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding.
  2. Better brains: Breastmilk builds better brains, in most studies, Breastfeeding is linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in most such studies.
  3. Less diarrhea: Breastmilk promotes higher quality bacteria in baby’s gut and poop, reducing diarrhea and baby’s chances of becoming obese or ever having type 2 diabetes.
  4. Fewer infections: Breast milk gives baby antibodies that baby cannot make in any other way. These antibodies can help fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness long before your baby can be fully immunized and make those antibodies themselves.
  5. Reduced SIDS risk: Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  6. Lower risk of cancer and osteoporosis: Breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer by about 20% each. Some studies are also showing it reduces your risk of bone thinning (osteopenia and osteoporosis) and even hip fracture later in life.
  7. Faster weight loss: If the first 6 reasons aren’t enough to convince you to breastfeed your baby, consider that you burn an extra 500 calories a day when nursing. This could result in as much as a 1 pound loss a week while nursing.

Breastfeeding offers many benefits to the mom and the newborn and utilizing the three breastfeeding tips will enhance your breastfeeding experience. Even if you are another family member, offering to help her while she is breastfeeding makes a huge difference in a mother’s eye. Believe me, I know it does. If you want to find out more useful resources on breastfeeding, go to healthy4mom.org.

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