Celebrating National Breastfeeding Month

Did you know that almost 68% of women in the UK start breastfeeding, but just 48% carry on for more than 6-8 weeks? At the same time the WHO recommends six full months of breast feeding. 

Breast feeding doesn’t always come naturally and many women just can’t manage it for a variety of reasons. If that’s you, there’s no need to feel guilty. It’s perfectly natural. And the commercial foods available for babies are superb these days, packed with all the nutrients they need. 

Why hold a National Breastfeeding Month? 

Around the world mothers often face challenges arising from breastfeeding, as well as misconceptions about it. The event is designed to provide reliable information about it, the benefits, the truth behind the misconceptions, and the latest research. 

About National Breast Feeding Month

National Breastfeeding Month is all about giving women all over the world the facts, strategies and tips they need to do their best with breastfeeding. The event focuses on the challenges families experience, offering the chance for communities, governments, healthcare providers, educators, businesses, social organisations and more to learn about the policies and practices designed to ensure as many women as possible have an enjoyable, successful breastfeeding experience. 

The idea is to focus extra attention on the benefits of breastfeeding around the globe, supporting and encouraging women to achieve their breastfeeding goals. 

  • 1 – World Breastfeeding Week – Themed: Protect Breastfeeding – A Shared Responsibility
  • 2 – Indigenous Milk Medicine Week – Themed: Nourishing Our Futures
  • 3 – Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Week – Themed: Reclaiming Our Tradition
  • 4 – Black Breastfeeding Week – Themed: The Big Pause – Collective Rest for Collective Power

The benefits

Science proves breastfeeding comes with many health benefits for the mother and child. For babies, they are: 

  • Better immunity against bacteria and viruses
  • Reduced risk of SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome
  • Less risk of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and infections

For mothers there are also plenty of health benefits: 

  • Reduced risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower chance of type 2 diabetes
  • A reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancers
  • Less risk of depression
  • Your womb recovers faster 

Why it isn’t always easy 

Breastfeeding challenges mean it isn’t always simple or straightforward because of the following: 

  • Very painful nipples, sometimes cracked and bleeding 
  • Too much or not enough milk 
  • Swollen breasts
  • Blocked milk ducts
  • You may have issues around the shape and size of your nipples  
  • Your baby refuses to feed 
  • They have a problem latching on 
  • Exhaustion is a risk
  • You can feel depressed and stressed

New mums are notorious for giving themselves a hard time, but there’s no need. Some of the issues can be solved as long as you have the right help and support. 

What if you can’t breastfeed?

If you find it impossible to breastfeed, you can create a close bond with your baby in other ways. You might be able to pump your own breast milk and supplement it with formula in a bottle. There is also an option to hold your child close while feeding them and keep strong eye contact throughout, with lots of touching. Mums can sing and talk to them while they feed. These are all simple, natural things to do, and they’re really powerful. 

The USA’s Breastfeeding Committee has been promoting an annual Breastfeeding Month since 2011. This year’s theme is Every Step of the Way, concentrating on the entire community, the places where families work, shop, eat and play, in an effort to better support families in meeting their baby-feeding goals.  

What are your own breastfeeding experiences?

We’d love to hear about your own experiences with breastfeeding. Feel free to leave a comment! Alternatively, you can visit the NHS’ breastfeeding page to get some hints and tips.

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