August is National Breastfeeding Month
Breastfeeding is a common practice around the world. It is recommended for mothers to breastfeed for at least the first six months of a child’s life for baby to receive optimal health benefits. On August 6, 2011, the United States Breastfeeding Committee declared August to be National Breastfeeding Month as a way to support and promote advocacy of national breastfeeding initiatives.
While breastfeeding provides the essential calories and nutrients for a growing infant, it can also provide certain protections from illnesses such as asthma, ear infections, lower respiratory infections, eczema, type 2 diabetes, and childhood leukemia and obesity among others. Breastfeeding can also lessen vomiting and diarrhea in infants.
Breastfeeding also provides a number of benefits for a nursing mother, from aiding in a quicker recovery from childbirth to even reducing the risk of certain illnesses. The hormone oxytocin is released while breastfeeding. While it enhances the sense of attachment between mother and child, it also acts to bring the uterus back to its normal size after childbirth, possibly reducing postpartum bleeding and helping mom to recover in less time. Research over time has also shown that breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and certain types of breast and reproductive cancers such as ovarian and uterine cancers.
Aside from health benefits, breastfeeding is practical and economical for growing families, reducing the high cost associated with formulas and bottles. It also ensures a constant and clean food source for infants in times of natural disaster when clean water and access to feeding supplies may not be readily available.