Breastfeeding is defined as only breast milk – no solids, water or other liquids. The CDC states breastfeeding disparities do exist. They state that 69.4% of black infants are breastfed, compared to 85.9% of whites and 84.6% of Hispanics. The percentage of WIC parents (Women, Infants and Children) that are not likely to ever be breastfed is 76.7%. 80.4% of mothers who are younger between 20 and 29 years of age, are less likely to breastfeed. 85.3% of mothers who are 30 and older do and will breastfeed.
I have been teaching parenting for over a decade and generally hear parents offer several reasons not to breastfeed. A great majority of the parents I’ve taught don’t care to breastfeed even when they are given good reliable and beneficial information. Some say, “I am on medication and it can harm the child." Others say, “It’s too painful and the child can’t seem to latch on appropriately.” While others say, “I just don’t care to use this method.” Last year and most recently, I’ve seen more women choose to breastfeed when they realize and learn the health benefits associated with breastfeeding their infants.
Current research and other data indicate breastfeeding offers benefits to both infants and parents. They also aid with economics in the reduction of expenses. Formulas and dry powder milk supplements can be very costly. There are physical and emotional benefits of suckling and having skin-to-skin contact with the child and mother.
The breast milk offers all the needed nutrients to protect the child throughout his life, and aiding in the prevention of normal childhood infections and illnesses. During the child’s first year, breastfeeding can be very beneficial in the prevention of illnesses, normal colds and home and school contact infections. More research and studies suggest breastfeeding reduces the risk of particular allergic diseases, asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Infant’s cognitive development is also said to improve with breastfeeding.
Benefits for Infant - reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections and sudden infants’ death syndrome (SIDS).
Benefits for Mother – lower a mother’s risk of high blood pressure, types 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
References: Centers for Disease Control (CDC); American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture