Kara Ghiringhelli, Department of Public Heath
Kara Ghiringhelli is a Nutrition Education Specialist at DPH
Mothers all around the world want to give their babies the very best. But even though breast milk is the best possible food for babies, many women around the country are feeding their babies formula Perhaps it is because they are not confident they will be able to breastfeed their baby. Maybe they worried they will not have enough time. They may even be concerned about what people will think about them, or fear that it will hurt.
Despite all of these concerns, most moms in Massachusetts do try breastfeeding. But in the end, most moms don’t quite reach the breastfeeding milestones that are recommended by health experts, such as exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life.
There is no denying the benefits of breastfeeding. Reaching breastfeeding milestones leads to healthier babies and healthier moms. There are environmental benefits to breastfeeding too since there is no waste from formula products or bottles. There is no cost to breastfeed—which is a real plus in this economy. The list of breastfeeding benefits go on and on.
We as a community should be doing everything we can to encourage and support the moms in our lives to not only initiate breastfeeding, but to continue to breastfeed for as long as possible. So what can you do to give mom the confidence to breastfeed her baby?
• If you are a friend or family member of a breastfeeding mom, make life easier for the mom you know. Run some errands for her. Cook her a meal. Help her out with chores around the house. By making life easier for her, she can focus on what’s most important—feeding her baby.
• If you are an employer, set aside a private room for mom to pump her milk while she is at work.
• If you are a medical provider, give mom resources she may need in her area such as breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants. To find resources in your area visit www.zipmilk.org
What else can the community do to support and encourage the women in our lives to breastfeed? We’d love to hear from you!