Welcome to Day 1 of World Breastfeeding Week! Breastfeeding, luckily, is less taboo than it was even a few years back. Social media has made it known and so more people are becoming accepting of the fact that breastfeeding is normal. But, many women are still not meeting their own breastfeeding goals.
What are breastfeeding goals?
Breastfeeding goals aren’t the 6 months of exclusive breast feeding that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends or the 2 years of breastfeeding and then as long as mutually beneficial as recommended by the World Health Association.
Breastfeeding goals are the personal goals that women have. These are the goals that women have for themselves. For me, I said I’d “try” to breastfeed and with support, research and telecommuting, I was able to do more than try. Of course, as time passed, it was no longer trying and quickly progressed to the APA and WHO goals.
Many women, though, do not have breastfeeding support.
Many women are not at baby friendly hospitals, and leave the hospital with little or even incorrect information on breastfeeding.
Women shouldn’t feel guilted into breastfeeding or embarrassed into not breastfeeding.
Women should be able to meet their goals, especially as the science behind WHY natural breast feeding is important for health and society.
Why is Breastfeeding a Goal for Life?
Breastfeeding helps both babies and women. While no one can say “all babies who are breastfed will X” or “women who breastfeeding will never get Y” there are generalizations that show, statistically that breastfeeding has positive health outcomes.
Breastfeeding helps two goals that the UN has made. Millenium Development Goal 4 is to Reduce Child Mortality. Millenium Development Goal is to Improve Maternal Health.
Some of the benefits include:
- In Developed Countries, breastfeeding reduce SIDS by 36% (http://archive.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/brfout/brfout.pdf)
- 72 percent (95% CI 46% to 86%) reduction in the risk of hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract diseases in infants less than 1 year of age who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months or more.(AHRQ, pg 3)
- association between a history of breastfeeding for at least 6 months duration and a reduction in the risk of both leukemia
- studies suggests that there is an association between breastfeeding and a reduced risk of breast cancer in the mother.
These are all from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US).
In under developed countries, the issues and needs for breastfeeding is even more pronounced. The risk of contaminated water causing diarrhea, or unsanitary conditions make not breastfeeding risky.
For many, formula is expensive. It leads to watering down of bottles, causing children to get not enough calories or fat. This is a risk even among the middle-class in the US and other “rich” countries.
Did you know?
According to UNICEF: Exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months was associated with a three to four fold decreased risk of transmission of HIV compared to mixed feeding breastfeeding in several African studies.
Women around the world need more than just information on the benefits, though, they need breastfeeding support.
Find a La Leche League near you.
Attend a Breastfeeding Nurse In this weekend.