Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week!
This week, the Midwives of MedStar are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-August 7. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development,” aims to raise awareness not only about the significant maternal and infant health benefits of breastfeeding, but also its advantages for a healthy planet. While the marketplace may try to convince you otherwise, all a mother and baby really need to breastfeed is one another. Certainly breast milk pumping and storage generates some consumer products and waste, but much less than what is associated with using breast milk substitutes. Breast milk also is free and is always the right temperature for your baby.
One of the best ways to ensure you achieve your breastfeeding goals is to begin the conversation about how you will feed your baby with your partner and your provider early in your pregnancy. Did you know that the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond infancy? In addition to providing disease-fighting antibodies, and all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first few months of life, babies who are breastfed have lower risks of asthma, lower respiratory infections, eczema, diarrhea, type II diabetes, childhood obesity and SIDS. As for mom, it also lowers the risk of postpartum depression, anxiety, certain breast cancers and ovarian cancer.
At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, all nurses who work with new mothers and infants receive 20 hours of breastfeeding specific education and skills development. We also have lactation consultants who help you and baby get off to a good start. More important, the hospital has adopted the 10 best practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to support breastfeeding mothers and infants, including immediate skin to skin time after delivery.
It’s not unusual for some mothers who start the process of learning to breastfeed to feel nervous and tentative. Yet with knowledgeable and support, these hesitant starts quickly blossom into successful feeding rhythms with a confident mother and content, healthy baby.
For moms returning to work, be sure to review your insurance coverage. Many plans under the Affordable Care Act cover electric breast pumps (with many covering lactation services as well). A good rule of thumb is to begin pumping about two weeks before returning to work, so the baby can get used to eating from a bottle and you can begin to build up a supply of stored breast milk.
Did you know that workplaces are required by law to provide adequate time and a clean, private place to pump (bathrooms don’t count). Ensure you have a refrigerator or cooler to store the breast milk until you return home.
Need more information? Check out the upcoming Baby Care & Breastfeeding Basics, District of Columbia Breastfeeding Resource Guide, the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, La Leche League and the World Health Organization for more information.
World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).