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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More