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World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

By Judy McAvoy RNC, IBCLC

Twenty-two years ago the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) initiated the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) campaign to focus and facilitate actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. The theme and slogan this year is: WBW 2014: BREASTFEEDING: A Winning Goal- For LIFE!

UNICEF, WHO and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly endorse and advocate breastfeeding as the standard and optimal method of feeding infants and young children- recommending exclusive breastfeeding through the first 6 months of life, continuing in to the second half of the first year along with the introduction of complimentary solid foods and through the second year of life.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding are not only apparent in infants but in mothers as well. Research suggests that breastfed babies have lower risk s of: asthma, childhood leukemia, childhood obesity, ear infections, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and Type 2 diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed also reap rewards in: faster healing and recovery from childbirth, lower incidences of some breast and ovarian cancers, decrease in osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes. Economically, the cost of not breastfeeding can cost well in excess of $1500 a year for parents to cover the purchase of formula and supplies. The United States could also save billions of dollars per year in health care costs by supporting breastfeeding- as fully breastfed infants need fewer sick care visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions. The benefits from breastfeeding even extend into the environment – as there is no packaging to dispose of and no plastic, can or bottle waste- breast milk is a renewable resource that comes already packaged and warmed.

Babies are born to breastfeed. A mother’s milk is unique- just like her baby- it’s easy to digest and adjusts according to your baby’s needs.

Clearly it is in everyone’s best interest to protect, promote and support a baby’s right to breastfeed. Knowing there are resources available to help this happen is half the battle. “Mothering” the mother by surrounding and offering her love, comfort, support and security will permit this goal to be fulfilled.