The old adage that everything old is new again may not seem to fit in the ever-changing field of public health. But when it comes to giving babies the best chance at growing up healthy, it fits just fine.
There was a time, not that long ago, that breast-feeding was the way almost all children were fed. Breast milk is, after all, nature’s own superfood, providing just the right balance of proteins, fats, sugars and vitamins for a new baby’s growth and development. But in recent decades, the combination of “convenience” and aggressive marketing by baby formula producers changed the way we think about breast-feeding. It went from a convenience to a hassle.
For the sake of our babies and mothers, we need to put the convenience back in breast-feeding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of life, and that mothers continue to breast-feed with the addition of solid foods for at least the first year. For the baby, that offers protections against everything from ear infections and childhood obesity to asthma, diabetes and even sudden infant death syndrome. For mothers, it helps burn calories and speed up the loss of pregnancy weight as well as reduce the risks of breast and ovarian cancers.
Breast-feeding is not just an issue for mothers and babies. Bringing back convenience requires an effort by all of us. Activate Allen County has been working with area businesses, hospitals and physicians to promote breast-feeding.
•Get the information out — Area doctors offices now have resource tables to help inform patients during the month of August as part of World Breastfeeding Week, a recognition that promotion of breast-feeding is an important step in creating healthy children and communities.
•They include Women’s Health for Life, OBGYN Specialists of Lima, St. Rita’s, Bluffton Public Library and Pediatrics of Lima.
•Breast-feeding Welcome Here — Businesses and public spaces are confirming the fact that women have a right to breast-feed wherever they choose by displaying the Breast-feeding Welcome Here sign.
• Employers helping out — 19 local businesses and groups have developed policies in support of breast-feeding for their employees.
We are making great strides in increasing the number of new mothers who breast-feed, and we are helping produce healthier, happier babies and mothers in the process. But in the end, breast-feeding success is up to all of us.