News / Health

    Health Experts Urge Mothers Worldwide to Breastfeed

    World Breastfeeding Week strives to make the practice more widespread

    World Breastfeeding Week, which occurs August 1-7, has a simple goal: to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed.
    World Breastfeeding Week, which occurs August 1-7, has a simple goal: to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Faiza Elmasry

    International advocates are using the annual observance of World Breastfeeding Week - which is August 1-7 - to raise awareness of breastfeeding’s health benefits and to provide the societal support mothers need to do it.

    Breast milk provides all the nutrients a baby needs for the first year of life, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many other experts worldwide. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) reports that - although breastfeeding rates are rising around the world - many mothers still choose to give their babies formula.

    Challenges

    Dionna Ford is pregnant with her second child. She still remembers how difficult her breastfeeding experience was when her son, now three, was born.

    Dionna Ford co-founded Natural Parents Network, an online resource for mothers like her who want to breastfeed.
    Dionna Ford co-founded Natural Parents Network, an online resource for mothers like her who want to breastfeed.

    “My son was put in the Intensive Care Unit for babies for possible breathing problems," Ford says."He had a hard time latching, which is a very common problem among new breastfeeding mothers. It took a while for my colostrums to come in, the first milk you produce.”

    Benefits of Breastfeeding

    For Babies

    • Reduces incidence and severity of infections, including ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis in infants
    • Protects infants against a variety of illnesses, such as diarrhea and infant botulism
    • Reduces the chance of allergies, asthma and eczema
    • Reduces the risk of becoming overweight or obese, even as adults
    • For Mothers

    • Helps mothers recover from childbirth
    • Reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
    • May reduce the risk of osteoporosis
    • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months can help in child spacing among women who do not use contraceptives
    • SOURCE: Women's, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program

    It would have been easy for Ford to switch to formula, but she persevered.

    “I had an amazing lactation consultant that worked for the hospital and she spent hours helping me figure out how to get him to latch on and nurse.”

    Her friend, Lauren Wayne, had a very different experience. She says there was no such help in the hospital where she gave birth to her first child, four years ago.

    “There was a nurse there who was very passionate, but misinformed about breast feeding," Wayne says. "She convinced us to feed him formula. We got a rough start there. Fortunately, I had a midwife who came to visit me at home once we were out of hospital. She was able to get us back into a very good breastfeeding relationship.”

    For Wayne, there is nothing is better than breastfeeding.

    “It’s the easiest way. I don’t have to sterilize bottles and worry about the right temperature. I’m also able to nurse at night and not really wake up, my baby just can sleep with me. It’s made me close to my 4-year old. It’s been a good way to connect.”

    Natural Parents Network

    Inspired by their experiences, Wayne and Ford launched “Natural Parents Network,” an online resource to inform, empower and inspire other mothers who want to breastfeed.

    “We have writers for Natural Parents Network who’ve had so many different experiences and challenges and they share that with other mothers to help them persevere through their own challenges," says Ford.

    “One way that we promote breastfeeding is through informing them," Wayne says. "We have a lot of articles and resources on breastfeeding. We linked to breastfeeding sites. We have a Facebook page, a forum and a Twitter link so people can interact with each other and get the support they might not be getting from the people they know in real life.”

    Encouraging more breastfeeding

    Those sorts of resources are crucial to getting more mothers to breastfeed their babies, says U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.

    “We’re having to make those groups available. We know in past generations, there was often someone present in the family, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, who knew how to breastfeed. We’re seeing less of that now," Benjamin says. "So we’re having to turn to community resources to help educate the family, the mother and the father, on how to continue breastfeeding.”

    World Breastfeeding Week, like other campaigns that continue throughout the year, has a simple goal: increase the number of mothers who breastfeed

    “We know that 75 percent of women in the United States start out breastfeeding, but by 6 months, less than 13 percent of them are exclusively breast feeding,” Benjamin says.

    Overcoming obstacles

    Many mothers quit when they go back to work, Benjamin notes, because they don’t have a supportive workplace that provides a time and place for them to pump their milk.

    Other mothers find nursing too difficult and frustrating. Kelly Seo,30, wanted to breastfeed her baby, but couldn't.

    "When she was born, we started off well, but then it wasn't very long before every feeding she was unhappy. She was screaming every time I put her to the breast," says Seo. "I was in severe pain and it just became an awful experience for both of us. I did try to see a couple of lactation consultants and I had some help from my midwife but they weren’t really able to give me the answers I needed. All of the frustration and the tiredness of being a new mom just kind of culminated and I ended up stopping at 10 days."

    Dr. Chessa Lutter, spokeswoman for the Pan American Health Organization, which promotes a range of programs that provide support for breastfeeding moms, says it is absolutely possible to increase breastfeeding.

    “That involves making hospital environments very conducive to breastfeeding and in general having a society that’s supportive of breastfeeding.”

    Lutter would like to see the scope of breastfeeding advocacy grow to involve almost everyone around mothers. When more people support breastfeeding as the normal and right thing to do, she says, more mothers will choose to breastfeed their babies as long as they can.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora