Understanding the importance of breastfeeding is essential not only for women, but also for caregivers, families and the community as a whole to ensure breastfeeding mothers receive the support they need. While every mother must make her own choice about breastfeeding based on her situation, being aware of the benefits of breastfeeding improves breastfeeding rates, nutrition, and the health of both baby and mother.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants and has many benefits for both baby and mother. According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, only one in four children is exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Low breastfeeding rates add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for mother and child in the United States.
“Breastfeeding provides unparalleled health benefits for babies and mothers,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “This is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk specially formulated to meet the health needs of a growing baby. We must do more to create supportive and safe environments for mothers who choose to breastfeed.
Kate Bock is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in St. David’s Georgetown. She agreed and said that as a community we need to stand together and express our support for breastfeeding mothers.
“It’s very important to normalize breastfeeding,” Bock said. “We need to empower mums to publicly breastfeed and have workplaces, families and the wider community support mums to breastfeed their babies.”
Bock says education and support during those first days and weeks of breastfeeding lead to many success stories for new moms. “Breastfeeding helps immediately after birth,” she said. “It releases a hormone that helps prevent the mother from bleeding while helping her produce milk.
“During the first days of breastfeeding, the baby receives colostrum, which transmits passive immunity from the mother, which means that the antibodies that the mother has in her body are transmitted to the baby,” Bock said. “This immunity is incredible. Otherwise, babies would have much weaker immune defenses. In times of Covid and other seasonal viruses, this gives the baby some immune protection. It (breastfeeding) also helps with temperature regulation, blood sugar regulation of the baby, and brain development.
According to the CDC, breastfed infants are at reduced risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and gastrointestinal infections. -intestinal.
The benefits for the mother include a lower risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer. “It also helps mom lose weight after having a baby because breastfeeding burns quite a few calories each day,” Bock said. “There is also the importance of the link aspect. The complicity and closeness that form between baby and mother. When babies are held skin-to-skin and breastfed, their stress hormones decrease.
Bock also underlined the economic aspect for mom. “Breastfeeding is totally free,” she said. “It’s definitely cheaper than having to buy nutrition.”
Bock stressed the importance for new mothers to ask for help when they need it. The Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and nursing women. non-lactating after delivery, as well as for infants and children up to 5 years of age who are at nutritional risk.
“The WIC office in Georgetown is amazing,” Bock said. “They have IBCLC lactation consultants, like me. They offer nutrition, free classes, and help mothers prepare for parenthood, as well as breastfeeding. After the baby arrives, they continue this help and lactation monitoring. If someone needs supplements, they can help too.
Other local remedies include At my moms, a lactation support center in North Austin. “This is an organization that has been helping breastfeeding women in this part of the state for a very long time,” Bock said. “This is where I call if I have a question. They can help a mother get a breast pump, refer her to a nearby lactation consultant, and help with a variety of other issues.
Bock said Le Leche League and Kellymom.com are two other wonderful resources. “Le Leche offers a 24-hour breastfeeding helpline,” she said. “Kellmom.com is a science-based parenting and breastfeeding website with lots of useful information.”
According to the CDC, in the United States, the percentage of babies who start breastfeeding increased from 73% in 2004 to 83% in 2019. Bock said that one of the main indicators of this continued success is a group of breastfeeding support.
“I encourage breastfeeding mothers to connect with other breastfeeding mothers.” she says. “Breastfeeding support groups, whether online or in person, and supporting these mothers as a community is so important. Ongoing awareness and support during these first days, weeks and months of breastfeeding will help mothers and babies succeed.
For more information on breastfeeding or for assistance, contact St. David’s Georgetown at 512-943-3000 or www.stdavids.com.