Breastfeeding has many benefits — for mother and baby

 

By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

There’s a reason pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed: It has great benefits — health and otherwise — for mother and baby.

Breastfeeding offers essential nutrients and a nutritionally balanced meal for your baby. In addition to producing nutrition only you can provide, breast milk is easy to digest, and it fights disease — from diabetes to cancer to obesity. The experience of breastfeeding is special for so many other reasons, including:

  • The health benefits it provides mothers
  • The cost savings
  • The joyful closeness and bonding with your baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

What does WIC Offer for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies?

  • Supportive breastfeeding staff: breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants
  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food package
  • Breastfeeding support groups – Circle of Friends
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

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