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It's World Breastfeeding Week
By Kate Hylan,
10:59AM / Thursday, August 06, 2020
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Breastfeeding is one of the most important actions a family can take in order to provide a baby with the best start possible in life.

This week, Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, a global campaign to support, raise awareness and engage in conversations about breastfeeding.

At Community Health Programs and Barrington OB/GYN, we strive to help our patients feel informed and supported in their breastfeeding journeys. We have a team of lactation consultants, certified nurse-midwives, doctors, and nurse practitioners who are ready, willing and able to answer any breastfeeding questions and help our patients succeed in reaching their goals. In fact, many of us have breastfed (or are breastfeeding) our own babies and/or supported partners; so we can speak from both clinical and personal experience.

We understand that breastfeeding exclusively is not an option for some moms. We are also here to support these moms in ensuring babies' nutrition.

Breastfeeding is one of the most important actions a family can take in order to provide a baby with the best start possible in life. It is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of baby's life and to continue breastfeeding until at least the child's first birthday. Breastmilk includes cells, hormones and antibodies to help protect babies. This mixture is unique and ever-changing with a baby’s growing needs throughout their early life.

Babies who are breastfed are at lower risk of many childhood illnesses and diseases including asthma, obesity, ear infections, childhood leukemia, type 2 diabetes, eczema, lower respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

For mom, breastfeeding can help to decrease postpartum blood loss, promote maternal-infant bonding and decrease risks of type 2 diabetes and ovarian cancer. Plus, breastfeeding can burn as much as 500 calories a day, promoting healthy, sustained weight loss! In addition, formula costs on average $1,500 and $1,800 per year, so it is can be a big money saver.

Breastfeeding has enumerable benefits for both mother and baby, but it truly does take a family effort to be successful. For moms, breastfeeding is a full-time job! A year of breastfeeding calculates as almost the exact same hours as working a 40 hour workweek, with three weeks' vacation – both nearly 2,000 hours a year.

Therefore, families and partners need to support mother and baby for breastfeeding to be successful and to ensure a healthy start for their new baby. This means helping to nourish them (yes, that means getting moms snacks and LOTS of water) and making sure mom has everything she needs close at hand, to protect this important time for her and the baby. Partners and family members play an important role too. Pumping supplies need constant washing. Bottle-feeding pumped milk is a great way to give mom a break and makes time for partners to connect with the new baby. (And of course, help to change those diapers when the breastmilk comes out the other end!)

When mom goes back to work, employers and fellow employees can make sure that women have the time and space to pump breast milk, and they can follow up to ensure needs are met. It takes a supportive community for a breastfeeding mother to be successful.

So happy breastfeeding! Happy supporting those who breastfeed! And enjoy your little ones in the healthiest and happiest way possible! CHP and BOG are here as community support for breastfeeding moms in the Berkshires.

Kate Hylan is a certified nurse midwife, family nurse practitioner, at CHP Barrington OB/GYN.

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