World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration held the first week of August and is recognized by more than 120 countries around the world. An initiative led by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), this weeklong celebration aims to highlight the benefits breastfeeding can bring to the health and welfare of babies, as well as the benefits to maternal health with a focus on good nutrition, poverty reduction and overall food security.
While this post will focus on the benefits of breastfeeding, we know breastfeeding isn’t always feasible or the best option for mom and baby. It’s important to choose the feeding method that works best for your individual and family needs. Regardless of the feeding method, the physical and mental health of both mom and baby should always be the top priority.
This year, WABA’s emphasis for World Breastfeeding Week is on strengthening the capacity of actors that protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society including governments, health systems, workplaces and communities to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for families in the post-pandemic world. According to WABA, breastfeeding can assist with sustainable development strategies post-pandemic, as it can improve nutrition, ensure food security, and reduce inequalities between and within countries.
According to WABA data, breastfeeding can prevent 20,000 maternal deaths annually and 823,000 child deaths annually. Additionally, compared to the cost of formula, breastfeeding can save a family approximately $2,000 to $4,000 annually. Since breastfeeding can be a more affordable feeding option compared to formula, breastfeeding typically doesn’t have the same financial impact on a family’s household budget, contributing to a reduction in poverty across the globe.
If you choose or are able to breastfeed, some additional benefits you may experience are:
- Decreased postpartum bleeding, with the uterus returning to pre-pregnancy size more quickly
- Decreased stress and anxiety due to the brain releasing oxytocin and prolactin hormones while breastfeeding, encouraging mothers to bond with their babies
- Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes by four to 12% for every year of nursing
Other benefits breastfed babies can experience are:
- Reduction in gastrointestinal infections by 64%
- Protection against diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide, due to receiving antibodies through breastmilk
- Decreased risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections in the first year, if breastfed exclusively for more than four months
At Amwell, we know breastfeeding is a very personal decision to consider. For those who are able to or interested in breastfeeding, Amwell provides breastfeeding support and lactation counseling for a range of common issues, including but not limited to latching issues, mastitis, weaning, returning to work and more. It’s easy to make a telehealth appointment with one of Amwell’s lactation consultants. Amwell’s telehealth visits with a board-certified lactation consultant also cost less than an in-office appointment to address the same problems. Regardless of the reason a mother chooses to breastfeed or formula-feed, Amwell is here to support all mothers and their babies.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, trying to wean baby or nervous about pumping, reach out to an Amwell lactation consultant today.