Increasing breastfeeding rates in the United States is a national health goal that’s part of the Healthy People initiative. The goal is to have 75 percent of mothers breastfeed their babies initially, 50 percent after six months and 25 percent after one year.
|The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months, while the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or longer.|
For comparison’s sake, not even nearly a decade ago in 2005 while over 74 percent of infants born were breastfed initially, just 43 percent were still breastfeeding at 6 months and 21 percent at 1 year. Further, only 32 percent were breastfed exclusively through three months of age and 12 percent through 6 months — despite the fact that many health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, including:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- The American Academy of Family Physicians
- The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
- The World Health Organization
- The United Nations Children’s Fund
In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, continuing as long as mother and baby wish, while the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or longer.
The reason breastfeeding has become a national health goal is because research has shown breast milk is the superior choice for infant nutrition. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“Both babies and mothers gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.”
15 Reasons to Breastfeed … for Baby and for Mom
Studies have found the following benefits to breastfed infants:
- Breastfeeding is associated with a higher high school grade point average and an increase in the odds of attending college, according to a new study published in the Journal of Human Capital. In fact, for each additional month of breastfeeding, there was an increase in high school GPA of 0.019 points, and an increase in the probability of college attendance of 0.014.
- A decreased risk of infectious diseases including bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants.
- A 21 percent lower risk of dying after the first month of birth.
- A lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life.
- Lower rates of type 1 and 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma in adulthood.
- Enhanced cognitive development (the reason for the findings in benefit #1).
- Breastfeeding provides analgesia to infants during painful procedures like a heel-stick for newborn screenings.
And, according to AAP, moms also experience benefits from breastfeeding, including:
- A new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women in their 60s who had breastfed for a year or more during their lifetime were 10 percent less likely to develop heart disease and significantly less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Further, the longer a woman had breastfed, the lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes or heart disease became.
- Decreased postpartum bleeding.
- Helps the uterus get back in shape faster after childbirth.
- Less menstrual blood loss (many women don’t menstruate during breastfeeding, which leads to natural child spacing/family planning).
- Getting back to her pre-pregnancy weight faster.
- Decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- A possible decreased risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
- Breastfeeding is free, whereas formula costs can be expensive.
Healthy Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
Nurture Your Baby, Nurture Yourself … With Friendly Bacteria
When we are born, most of us began with a clean slate in terms of health. Unborn babies are equipped with their own friendly bacteria and after they are born breast milk helps those bacteria to grow and flourish.
You can fortify your body, and your breast milk, with good bacteria by eating a healthy diet rich in fermented foods, and also by taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Studies have shown that probiotics may be helpful with:
When you are breastfeeding your body requires extra nutrition to feed your growing baby. With that in mind, here are some healthy tips for breastfeeding moms:
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to get extra vitamins and minerals. You may also want to consider taking a high-quality vitamin or mineral supplement, but keep in mind this is not a substitute for a healthy diet.
- Note that some pregnant women have an increased need for greater levels of folate as they may have a familial history of depression, have high homocysteine levels, been diagnosed with high blood pressure in pregnancy or may be susceptible to birth defects. These women may benefit from a high dose of natural folate (natural folic acid) supplement.
- Eat primarily unprocessed, whole foods, and avoid those with “extras” like sugar, artificial flavors, artificial color and trans fats.
- Make sure you drink plenty of pure water, as your need for fluid increases when you breastfeed. A common suggestion is to drink a glass of water every time you breastfeed. We also highly recommend you make sure your water is a pure as possible for you and your baby. Buy or filter water to reduce chlorine, chloramines, cysts, VOCs, pesticides, and herbicides below detectable levels.
- Consider taking a high-quality probiotic (good bacteria) supplement. Studies show that taking probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding may not only help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight sooner, but also may protect babies from:
- Obesity later in life
Consider a high quality probiotic supplement that provides clinical activities supporting systemic health and wellness through immune-system protection, allergy reduction and effective and enhanced nutrient absorption.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, as any alcohol that is in your bloodstream while you are breastfeeding can pass into your breast milk. If you do have an occasional drink, wait at least two hours after your drink before breastfeeding.