The month of August is acknowledged as National Breastfeeding Month, and during this time, many organizations, women’s health clinics, and individuals advocate for breastfeeding awareness and support for mothers. For more information on this year’s theme, Many Voices United, please visit usbreastfeeding.org.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are many reasons that mothers choose to breastfeed or not, and it is ultimately a personal decision that needs to be made by the mother and her family. However, if you are able, there are many benefits to the baby that breastfeeds.
Many medical experts advise breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. After the six month mark, other vegetables, fruits, and proteins can be introduced alongside of breast milk, which should continue for at least a year. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for infants and has hormones, enzymes, and antibodies that cannot be replicated in a formula. Mothers’ bodies are able to produce the perfect blend of vitamins, proteins, and fats that their child needs. A mother’s milk can also adapt between feedings to produce exactly what her baby needs. Babies who breastfeed have fewer respiratory illnesses, ear infections, bouts of diarrhea, and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the baby; it is good for moms, too! Breastfeeding releases oxytocin which can help the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduce uterine bleeding. Breastfeeding has also been known to reduce the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
How to Support Breastfeeding Moms
Being a new parent is a transition in itself, let alone breastfeeding! It can affect a mother’s life dramatically, as a newborn often wants to breastfeed for most of the time that he or she is awake. Managing to eat and sleep in between feedings is a lot for new moms, or even experienced mothers who are also raising older children at the same time.
Mothers who are breastfeeding often feel intense connections with their babies. Breastfeeding hormones are produced, and she feels the need to stay nearby to nurse her baby.
There are many ways to support a breastfeeding mother, whether you are a partner, family member, or stranger! If you are the partner, do your part by cleaning pump parts, helping take the baby off mom’s hands in between feedings, and taking care of other baby needs such as burping and changing. When in public, stand up for moms who are feeding, and be encouraging! When in doubt, do not be afraid to ask mom how you can help, if she wants company, or just tell her how great she is doing.
Breastfeeding is an amazing thing that women can do! The physicians at Cheyenne OBGYN encourage you to take this month of August, National Breastfeeding Month, and learn about how you can support the moms who are breastfeeding in your community. Whether they are your partner, a neighbor, a family member, friend, or stranger, we should all be aware of the challenges breastfeeding mothers face and do our best to make their lives easier. If you have questions, please give us a call at 307-634-5216.