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Breastfeeding Benefits

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Breastfeeding Benefits
In Memphis and Shelby County we have one of the highest rates of infant mortality and obesity, but also one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the country. Many people do not realize that breastfeeding can help.

Why should mothers breastfeed?
Breastfeeding gives babies the best nutrition possible, defends against childhood and adult disease, aids brain development and strengthens emotional bonds. Its true! Breastfed babies have less ear, lung, blood and urinary tract infections as well as less diarrhea. Breastmilk also has nutrients that support healthy brain development. Premature babies who are breastfed have more protection against gastrointestinal disease. And some studies suggest decreased rates of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life.

But the benefits of breastmilk do not stop there. Older children and adults who were breastfed (compred to those who were not) have less incidence of type-2 diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin disease, allergies and asthma.

Breastfeeding is amazing for babies, but did you know that it also benefits the mother? These benefits begin as soon as nursing starts and continue long after it stops. An immediate benefit is that breastfeeding promotes uterine contractions after birth, lowering the risk of severe bleeding. In the weeks after delivery, breastfeeding has been shown to help mothers loose weight and is associated with enhanced mental health. Long-term health benefits include decreased risks of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers, as well as less spinal and hip fractures, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Why don't all mothers breastfeed?
The most significant reason is formula. When formula became available, it quickly became the norm for infant feeding. It was thought to be the same or even better than breastmilk. We now know this is NOT TRUE. But the reality is that many mothers stopped breastfeeding and then were not able to pass the skill on to their children.

Next, many women who need to return to work don't realize they can keep breastfeeding with the help of a pump. In fact, there are laws that require employers to allow mothers time to express breastmilk at work. Electric breast pumps are the easiest to use and can be purchased or rented from several places in the Memphis area. WIC can also provide breastpumps to working mothers if they qualify.

Last, breastfeeding does have its challenges and if a mother does not have support in place, she may not continue breastfeeding as long as is recommended. New mothers need to talk to those around them including family, friends and doctors to let them know that they intend to breastfeed and will need help along the way.

Where can I learn more?
To find out more about the many benefits of breastfeeding please visit the following links. You can also contact us or a lactation consultant to learn more.


website design: Kristin Mudd | photography: Alex Ginsburg Photo-Graphics