When possible, breastfeeding is the healthiest option for both mother and baby and offers many benefits for both. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, key benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Essential nutrition – everything a baby needs to grow and develop optimally
- Protection against common childhood infections
- Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Reduced risk of developing asthma, obesity, and type 1 diabetes
- Potentially improved cognitive development
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, highlighting that breastfeeding for up to two years has long-term health benefits, especially for the mother, including potential protection against diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
When it comes to breastfeeding, one size does not fit all. Some mothers feed their babies exclusively and directly from the breast, some nurse and use a breast pump to bottle their breast milk for their babies, and others breastfeed and supplement with formula occasionally. About five to seven percent of breastfeeding mothers pump exclusively due to the baby’s refusal to latch, low milk supply or other issues, and other mothers, despite their best efforts, and for a variety of reasons, are unable to breastfeed.
According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, 83 percent of babies are nursed when born, but only 25 percent are still exclusively breastfed at six months. A key factor in women’s ability to breastfeed successfully is the support they receive from family, friends, partners, support groups, colleagues and bosses, as well public policy more broadly. Now, more than ever, we must come together to identify and implement the policy and systems changes that are needed to ensure that every parent that chooses breastfeeding has the support and resources they need to succeed.
August is National Breastfeeding Month. However you choose to breastfeed your baby, our lactation team is available to support you! White Plains Hospital is proud to be one of only three hospitals in the lower Hudson Valley and Southern Connecticut to hold the International Baby-Friendly® Designation for achieving some of the highest standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and babies. You can connect with our nurses, who are all certified by the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants, the highest credential possible for lactation support, by calling 914-681-2214.