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Breastfeeding Provides Mother and Child With Undeniable Health Benefits

Aug. 4, 2021

World Breastfeeding Week is Celebrated Aug. 1 – 7

 Breastfeeding has long been known to provide significant health benefits to mothers and their babies. However, for many expectant moms or those who’ve recently given birth, they may still be wondering if breastfeeding is as beneficial as it is said to be?

 With World Breastfeeding Week taking place Aug. 1 – 7, the evidence is overwhelmingly clear, according to Dr. Liz Diaz-Querol with Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

 “By far, breastfeeding your child has been proven to offer indisputable health benefits to the child and that’s why it’s highly recommended,” she said. “When you breastfeed your baby, they are more likely to grow up healthy. Furthermore, breastfeeding lowers the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and has been shown to lower the chances of your baby suffering from other health problems that include infections, obesity and diabetes.”

 The advantages of breastfeeding don’t stop there, Dr. Diaz-Querol noted. Mothers who breastfeed their babies also benefit greatly when it comes to their own health. “Among others, if you breastfeed, you’re more likely to recover sooner from pregnancy, as well as labor and delivery,” she explained. “Additionally, you’re less likely to suffer from many health problems, including  breast cancer.”

 While 83% of U.S. infants receive breast milk at birth, only 25% are still exclusively breastfed at six months of age, according to California Breastfeeding Coalition. In California, the rate is slightly better, with 26.3% of infants exclusively breastfed at six months.

 According to Dr. Diaz-Querol, most babies can consume breast milk as their only food until they are six-months-old because they don’t need to be given baby food, water or juice. As your baby starts to eat other foods, you can gradually breastfeed less often, she continued.

 Dr. Diaz-Querol advised mothers to consult with their doctors as to when their babies should be given food other than breast milk. However, she stressed that mothers should consider breastfeeding for as long as they and their child want to, noting babies will continue to experience health benefits from breast milk beyond the first year.

 Like most things, breastfeeding may require some practice because it’s a learned skill, Dr. Diaz-Querol noted. “Try to be patient with yourself and your baby,” she explained, “and if breastfeeding turns out to be challenging for you, don’t give up. There are doctors, nurses and lactation consultants who can all help, as can friends, family and breastfeeding support groups.”

Kaiser Permanente offers important breastfeeding tips to mothers.