August 1, 2017 through August 7, 2017 marks the 25th year of World Breastfeeding Week. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) partners with organizations like: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); World Health Organization (WHO); Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM); International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN); International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA); La Leche League International (LLLI); and Wellstart International to reach their objectives. Their goal is to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding by anyone, anywhere, anytime, according to Dr. Anwa Fazal. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated on August 1st through August 7th in the U.S. to mark the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration. (Some countries observe World Breastfeeding Week at different times of the year.)
According to the Innocenti Declaration, breastfeeding provides the following benefits:
- Provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their healthy growth and development
- Reduces incidence and severity of infectious diseases
- Lowers infant morbidity and mortality
- Contributes to women’s health by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer by increasing the spacing between pregnancies
- Provides social and economic benefits to the family and the nation
According to MayoClinic.org, “For the first few weeks, most newborns breast-feed every two to three hours round-the-clock.” The Mayo Clinic staff suggests letting the baby set the pace for feedings. They also recommend that new parents look for steady weight gain and for babies to produce at least six wet diapers a day.
Breast milk naturally contains an almost perfect balance of nutrients for babies. (Babies who are exclusively breastfed may require a Vitamin D supplement.) Breast milk is easier to digest than formula. Because there are no unnatural additives in breast milk, there is less waste produced. A baby’s bowel movements are easier and often less smelly when they are breastfed. A breastfed baby’s stool will be yellow, seedy, and loose in appearance.
Breastfeeding moms should take care of their breasts. Saliva contains components meant to breakdown food, so if left on the breast saliva can make nipples sore. Wiping the breast thoroughly with a damp cloth after feedings and drying them completely will discourage soar nipples. Breastfeeding mothers should minimize the amount of soap that comes into contact with their nipples.
MayoClinic.org encourages moms to make good choices during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. They suggest eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Multivitamins are also recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers. Staying hydrated by drinking water, fruit juice, and milk is important as well. Pregnant women and new mothers should consume caffeine in moderation. Alcohol should be avoided. Breastfeeding should never be done within two hours of consuming alcohol. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should never smoke. Medications should only be taken when prescribed by a licensed medical professional.
The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.