August represents Breastfeed Awareness Month, a campaign funded to help empower women to commit to breastfeeding and celebrate the nurturers who do.
Breast milk is made for babies and is especially important for babies that are born with special medical and developmental needs. Loaded with nutrition, breastmilk is made of over 200 components of healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, antibodies, vitamins, and more.
Whether by pumping, breast or chest feeding, or with the help of a donor, breast milk should be encouraged for babies. It is encouraged that breastfeeding be done until the baby is at least six months old and if possible, until the baby is a year old or longer.
Babies that are breastfed for the first six months are less likely to experience ear infections, respiratory illnesses, diarrhea, and it decreases the risk of allergies or asthma.
Within the month of Aug., each of the weeks celebrate and raise awareness to a specific group regarding breastfeeding. These weeks include World Breastfeeding Week, Native Breastfeeding Week, Spotlight on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Week, and Black Breastfeeding Week.
World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week was established to encourage women to breastfeed or alternatively give babies breastmilk. The goal of this week is to bring awareness to the overall health benefits of breastfeeding.
Not only is breastfeeding good for the baby, but it is also good for mom too. Many women find breastfeeding to be emotionally satisfying, helping to prevent or decrease potential post-partum depression. The hormones that are released while breastfeeding has great benefits on their bodies by decreasing the chance of anemia and promoting weight loss after birth by burning extra calories.
Native Breastfeeding Week: Strong. Resilient. Latched.
The American Indian and Alaska Native communities, there is not a substantial amount of literature on breastfeeding. Because of this, it is not common in these communities, leaving many babies and newborns without access to breastmilk. Many babies in these communities exclusively are fed formula instead of breastmilk.
Spotlight on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies
Week three of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is devoted to informing mothers that breastfeeding can be done in emergency situations.
The main point of this week is to say that there is not a better food for an infant or baby in a time of emergency than breastmilk. For instance, if a mother is malnourished, she can still lactate and feed baby, and it is recommended that ill mothers continue to breastfeed to help reduce the risk of baby getting sick.
Black Breastfeeding Week: Revive. Restore. Reclaim
Black Breastfeeding Week was created because of the racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. There is a high infant mortality rate among black infants (twice the rate of white babies) because black infants are disproportionately born smaller or sick. Breastmilk is extremely beneficial for these babies since it is full of necessary immunities and benefits.
Though the role of a mother is very demanding. Communities should support women in breastfeeding their infants. This month is an important time to encourage, support, and educate women through this time of nurture.
Written by: Janah Merlin