August is National breastfeeding month and this month we will explain the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and the baby, as well as discuss some of the challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013 Report Card on Breastfeeding, nationwide, 76.5 percent of mothers breastfed at birth. By the time the baby was 49 percent and when the baby reached a year old, only 27 percent of mothers were still breastfeeding.
Kentucky has even lower statistics, with only 52.6 percent of mothers breastfeeding at birth, 32.5 percent of mothers breastfeeding at six months, and only 18.9 percent of mothers breastfeeding at a year. Understanding how important breastmilk is to the baby and the mother and knowing some of the challenges associated with breastfeeding can help mothers have a successful breastfeeding relationship with her baby.
Breast milk is made up all the nutrients and calories a baby needs until he or she develops into a toddler. The only vitamin breast milk does not provide enough of is vitamin D and you should supplement with a vitamin D that is strictly made for infants. Breast milk provides 25 IU of vitamin D and The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend 400 IU per day.
Many mothers may wonder how long she should breastfeed; the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed at least until the baby is six months old. The AAP suggests that mothers breastfeed up to the first year because of the benefits it has for the mother and baby.
Benefits for Baby
Breastfeeding can provide some amazing benefits for your little one! Some of these benefits include lower risk for childhood obesity, decreased incidence of asthma, better brain development, fewer dental carriers (cavities), and a decrease in allergies. Babies who are breastfed also have the benefit of having proper jaw and teeth structure (from latching onto the breast versus a bottle), as well as proper speech development, reports the La Leche League. Science continues to find more and more benefits to breastfeeding your baby.
Benefits for Mom
Nature knew how important breastfeeding is to babies, but Mother Nature didn’t leave out mama. Scientists continue to discover the benefits that breastfeeding has for mama. According to the La Leche League, here are just some of the ways breastfeeding benefits moms: reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and lower risk of diabetes. Even years down the road, moms who breastfed had lower risks of cardiovascular diseases, lower incidence of ovarian and breast cancers.
Challenges of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding doesn’t come easy to many mothers. Challenges such as the baby latching on wrong, clogged milk ducts for the mother, supply issues, the baby being tongue-tied, infections, weight concerns of the baby, and other challenges can be enough to derail your efforts in breastfeeding. However, talk with your doctor, your pediatrician, and your local lactation consultant to find a way to resolve the issue. Generally, a quick fix is all it takes to get you and your baby happily nursing again.