By Becky Bilby, RD, LD, CLC
Ohio celebrates the entire month of August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month with this year’s theme being “Breastfeeding, Foundation of Life.” Breastmilk provides the best possible start to life. Breastmilk contains immunities to diseases and helps to develop a young baby’s immune system. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of a baby developing asthma, allergies, respiratory infections and certain childhood cancers. Breastfeeding promotes the bond between mother and her baby. For mothers, breastfeeding decreases the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. Breastfeeding also helps with post-partum depression. With all of these and numerous other benefits, it is safe to say that breastfeeding is the perfect foundation of life.
Think about building the home of your dreams. Would you start building the walls first or the foundation? The foundation of course! If you want to be healthier, you have to have a foundation of nutritious meals, adequate sleep and exercise. If you want to have a successful career, you have to have the foundation of gaining knowledge and experience. There is no goal achieved without the process of building the foundation first. The goal of all parents is that the child will have a long and healthy life. Breastfeeding provides that opportunity by giving them a healthy foundation to start with.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and then continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate solid food for the first year and beyond. Both of these organizations know that breastfeeding is the foundation of life.
The WIC program also recognizes breastfeeding as the gold standard, and WIC knows that breastfeeding is the foundation of life! WIC focuses on helping families build many healthy foundations. Clermont County WIC offers continuous support for breastfeeding moms through a breastfeeding hotline, text program, a breast pump program and breastfeeding peer program. WIC breastfeeding peers work hard to educate other family members and employers on the benefits of breastfeeding. WIC teaches families and employers how they can support mom during this critical time of growth and development. WIC reaches out to doctors’ offices and community agencies, offering resources and a chance to collaborate to help mothers be successful with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a natural way to build the foundation of the bond between mother and baby. Breastfeeding satisfies baby’s emotional needs; breastmilk is the perfect food for a sick baby; and breastfeeding mothers spend less time at the doctor and more time snuggling baby.
Breastfeeding is a beneficial foundation to all of us now and in the future. Employers benefit because breastfeeding mothers take less sick days. Breastfeeding decreases the amount of garbage in landfills and decreases cow-induced global greenhouse gases. Breastfeeding is economically superior – breastmilk is free! The foundation of our future depends on how supportive we are to breastfeeding mothers.
Bilby has been a CLC since 2011. She is the breastfeeding coordinator for the Clermont County WIC program.