Ladies, it’s time to bear all. As we come to the close of World Breastfeeding Week, a whole month of awareness is in full swing!
In 2011, the US Surgeon General released a call to action to increase support for and eliminate barriers to breastfeeding. The report aimed to reach out not just to mothers but to employers, healthcare providers and communities as a whole to prioritize infant feeding as an important public health issue. Research suggests the United States would see 900 fewer infant deaths and save $13 billion a year if 90% of mothers decided to breastfeed.
And don’t forget about the individual benefits. Breast milk is the perfect combination of vitamins and antibodies that your bouncing bundle of joy needs. Babies who enjoy mom’s milk early in life are less likely to have allergies, asthma, ear infections and respiratory illness. And in case you were wondering, ladies, breastfeeding burns calories and releases oxytocin, which will help your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Nourishing your tot au natural can also reduce your chances of osteoporosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Further research suggests that if moms were to skip the lactation phase, they could face myriad health problems—from cardiovascular disease to obesity—for defying their body’s natural urges.
The information seems to be sinking in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates increased from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009, well before the Surgeon General’s call to action. However, the United States is actually well ahead of most of the Western world in terms of moms who breastfeed. In France, only 50% of mothers breastfeed, and it’s still considered extremely taboo to feed in public in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In Sub-Saharan African countries, however, almost all mothers practice “on demand” breastfeeding, as opposed to scheduled feedings—and experts from La Leche League and the World Health Organization are now realizing that baby-led feedings are more beneficial to both mom and tot. The more your baby drinks, the more milk you produce, so when you’re in sync you’ll both be much happier!
No matter your location or how paradigms change, two things hold true: raising awareness is crucial and the benefits of breastfeeding are far-reaching. So, here’s the green light, moms: go forth and nurse!