Lactation education

Lactation Expert Explains New Breastfeeding Guidelines That Reduce Health Risks

New breastfeeding guidelines show there are many benefits for mother and child, but there is now pressure to create broader support.

New breastfeeding guidelines show there are many benefits for mother and child, but there is now pressure to create broader support.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, until at least two years old.

“There are many benefits for the baby. What we realize is that there are a lot of benefits for the mother as well, especially in that second year of life,” said Dr. Sahira Long, Acting Division Chief of General Pediatrics at the Children’s National and lactation expert.

Benefits include a reduced risk of certain breast and ovarian cancers as well as high blood pressure. Benefits for babies include a reduced risk of ear infections, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome.

Increasing breastfeeding in all groups is also a way to eliminate disparities related to certain health risks. The longer a mother breastfeeds her child, the greater its overall health benefits.

“Science hasn’t always been available to let us know why this happens, we just know it does in many studies around the world,” Dr Long added.

She says the AAP’s recommendations on breastfeeding will face even greater pushback from society than women already face, making prenatal support and access to resources crucial, especially in the workplace.

There are some protections in the workplace because of the Affordable Care Act, but they don’t extend to all women, like teachers.

“There are extra efforts being made, a lot of things that are good for families are struggling to get through Congress,” Dr. Long pointed out.

Overall societal support is a major barrier, according to Dr. Long, that needs to be addressed.

“In my ideal world, we would come to a place where moms could breastfeed wherever they choose to be. If your baby needs to eat, your baby needs to eat and you shouldn’t be ashamed of doing what you do. is best for you and your baby,” Dr. Long said.

Resources available include the free breastfeeding resource guide from the DC Breast Feeding Coalition and the Lactation Support Center through the Children’s National. Services are also available through some WIC agencies and the Greater Washington Breastfeeding Center.

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