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Benefits of Breastfeeding

Posted on Jul 29, 2019

 

In this week’s On Call for All Kids, Megan Howard, a lactation consultant at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, explains the benefits of breastfeeding and how families can be part of World Breastfeeding Week.

What’s the goal or purpose of World Breastfeeding Week?

World Breastfeeding Week celebrates the global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide.

Why is breastfeeding important? What are the benefits?

Breastfeeding provides benefits to both moms and babies. For babies, breastmilk protects against allergies and illness. Breastmilk is easily digested and is perfect for a baby’s emerging gastrointestinal system. Studies have shown that infants who drink breastmilk for the first six months have fewer ear and respiratory infections, fewer upset stomachs and fewer incidences of sudden infant death syndrome. It also protects against diabetes and increased blood pressure later in life. For moms who breastfeed, their risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer is greatly reduced. Breastfeeding also helps to heal your body after childbirth.

What are some common challenges moms face while breastfeeding?

Mothers sometimes struggle with supply issues, either too much or too little milk, infants can have trouble latching, and they could latch well but have trouble transferring the milk from the breast to the stomach. It is important to seek help quickly from an expert to try to get things back on track as soon as possible. Birth hospitals often have lactation consultants on staff, and there are free community resources available such as through the government program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

How do we know if our baby is tongue-tied and does that prevent successful feedings?

It can cause feeding problems, or issues with speech or dentition later in life, but not always. A pediatric dentist or ear, nose and throat doctor could help diagnose a tongue tie and evaluate if it requires any revision.

Are there ways to increase milk supply?

Yes, the largest factor is frequency of milk removal. The more often you breastfeed or pump the more it will signal your body to make. Mothers also need to remember to take care of themselves and get adequate rest, hydration and nutrition so that they are healthy and strong enough to make milk for their babies.

What are your thoughts and tips on pumping and storing breast milk?

Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on milk storage. Mothers work so hard to produce milk that we want to keep every drop safe for the infant.

The Global Big Latch On: What happens on this day and when is it taking place?

Visit the Tampa Bay Breastfeeding taskforce Facebook page for a list of events in the area. The Global Big Latch On event at Johns Hopkins All Children’s will take place Friday, Aug. 2 in the Outpatient Care Center. Doors open at 9 a.m. There will be light refreshments and activities for siblings. The latch on is at 10:30 a.m. There also will be events taking place in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with a celebration.

The Global Big Latch On was started in 2005 as a way to increase breastfeeding support throughout the world. Women gather together to breastfeed and offer support to each other. Family, friends and the community join this celebration to promote and support breastfeeding.

Last year more than 60,000 people took part in the latch.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Stories each Monday for the latest report.


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