DOBSON — With an international awareness campaign under way, officials with the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center are touting the many benefits of breastfeeding to county mothers and mothers-to-be.
“Breastfeeding is critically important to the health of the baby,” said Brenda Hall, breastfeeding coordinator with the health department. “We know that if infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, they do so much better health-wise. Mothers can introduce soft foods after six months, but they should also continue breastfeeding for the first year.”
World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated worldwide Aug. 1-7 or, in some locations, Oct. 107. The 2014 World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life,” acknowledges that when mothers and babies succeed in their breastfeeding plans, they can enjoy a lifetime of benefits.
Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions a family can make, Hall said, and most women who choose to breastfeed have a specific goal in mind.
“Research shows that babies who receive only breast milk for the first six months of life are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, obesity, and respiratory illnesses,” Hall said. “Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.”
When mothers and babies are able to reach their breastfeeding goals, they also contribute to community prosperity, health, equity, and environmental sustainability.
“I’ve seen it work,” Hall said. “I’ve seen babies become healthier and mothers happier and more productive.”
Hall said breastfeeding is also much healthier for newborns.
“It’s so much easier on their stomachs,” she said. “One bottle of formula can change a baby’s digestive system for up to three weeks. It actually takes three weeks of breast feeding to clear out their systems. Babies who eat formula have more infections because breast milk is so much easier to digest and passes so many immunities to the baby from the mother.”
For further details, call the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center at 336-401-8410 or visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.