By Mary-Kathryn Craft
World Breastfeeding Week offers a perfect time to highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding.
The annual observance, coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, runs through Saturday. This year’s theme “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” focuses on supporting women who work and breastfeed. Whether a mother works in a formal, non-formal or home setting, she needs to feel empowered in her choice to breastfeed as it improves health for women and children.
Breastfeeding reduces a mom’s risk of:
- Breast and ovarian cancer
- Postpartum depression
- Iron deficiency
Breastfeeding protects a baby from:
- Ear infections
- Diarrhea and other stomach issues
- Bone loss later in life
It also reduces risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes and obesity.
Creating and supporting breastfeeding-friendly workplaces is part of SCale Down’s A Healthier State initiative. Employers can find a variety of communication and other resources for implementing breastfeeding-friendly environments here.
This week has also been proclaimed National Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for moms, babies and children that also provides breastfeeding support and assistance. Breastfeeding peer counselors are available in WIC clinics throughout South Carolina. Find your nearest WIC location here.
This week DHEC health departments statewide are celebrating the observance with a variety of activities including displays, pump demonstrations, classes and activities designed to educate all employees and customers about the benefits of breastfeeding.