The Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has been shown to convey many health benefits, both to nursing mothers and to their children. Scientific studies have demonstrated that mothers’ milk helps reduce risk for significant acute and chronic diseases in their children, including sudden infant death syndrome, childhood leukemia, ear infections, asthma and type 2 diabetes. Babies who have been breastfed also have a reduced rate of childhood obesity.
Breastfeeding has been linked to a lower risk of certain health problems in nursing mothers as well, such as type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding not only helps keep moms and children healthy, it also helps families save money through reduced medical costs, lost time at work and costs for formula and feeding supplies, which can total over $1,500 each year.
Breastfeeding Resources for Women, their Employers, and Health Providers
Help for Women Who Want to Breastfeed
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), provides eligible breastfeeding mothers with educational materials, peer counselor support, breast pumps and other supplies.
Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers and exclusively breastfeeding mothers receive an enhanced WIC food package.
Each state has a breastfeeding promotion coordinator for WIC.
- The HHS Office of Women’s Health has a great website and downloadable breastfeeding guides. This site also has a great list of non-governmental groups that support breastfeeding: Breastfeeding: Best for Baby, Best for Mom
- NIH’s MedlinePlus has all the latest medical and scientific facts and research about breast feeding: MedlinePlus overview of breastfeeding
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has some terrific resources on breastfeeding on their site as well.
Supporting Nursing Mothers at Work
- The Department of Labor is working on a new workplace regulation as part of the Affordable Care Act to support nursing mothers who work. This includes a requirement for reasonable break time and a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion to express breast milk at work, up until a child’s first birthday.
Click here to learn more about this proposed regulation from the Department of Labor including a fact sheet and some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
You can also make comments and provide feedback on the proposed rule by clicking here.
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding is a great resource for employers that describes the return on investment for workplace lactation support programs, including lower health care costs, absenteeism and turnover rates. Employees whose companies provide breastfeeding support also report higher productivity, improved morale, and greater job satisfaction.
Breastfeeding Resources for Health Care Professionals
- “Baby-Friendly” recognition is given to hospitals and other birthing facilities that provide optimal support for breastfeeding. Maternity practices in these settings can significantly affect breastfeeding rates. Learn more about how to become Baby-Friendly or find the Baby-Friendly institutions in your community through this list.
Posted: December 20, 2010