There are not a lot of sure things in this world, but when it comes to infant nutrition there is one thing everyone agrees on: breast-feeding is best.
There was a time, not all that long ago, when 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 reduces 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. There are a variety of ways to help.
•As a family member or friend — Offer support to the new mothers and help educate others about the importance of breast-feeding
•As a business owner or boss — Work with your business to support breast-feeding mothers by giving them time and space to pump and a place to store breast milk.
•In our hospitals — Provide new moms with the support and encouragement they need to breast-feed. Push for policies at your hospital to support breast-feeding.
•In our community — Provide clean, private spaces in malls, restaurants and other public places where women can go to breastfeed their children.
Activate Allen County is working on all these issues. Tools and tips for family members and businesses are available at our website, http://activateallencounty.com. 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.