National Breastfeeding Month: Breaking down the stigma – Week 2

August 8, 2019

In continuation of the series regarding breastfeeding in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, this week we will look at the benefits of breastfeeding. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, research shows that breastfeeding offers many health benefits for infants and mothers, as well as potential economic and environmental benefits for communities.

Research also shows that very early skin-to-skin contact and suckling may have physical and emotional benefits as well.1

Other studies suggest that breastfeeding may reduce the risk for certain allergic diseases, asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also may help improve an infant’s cognitive development. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings according to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services. Let’s look at the benefits breastfeeding can have on a baby’s immune system.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is an excellent resource for this topic. The AAP reports human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar and fat your baby needs to be healthy and it also contains many substances that benefit your baby’s immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells. These substances protect your baby against a wide variety of diseases and infections not only while the baby is breastfeeding but, in some cases, long after the baby has weaned. Formula cannot offer this protection. The AAP uses as a hypothetical, if you develop a cold while breastfeeding, you are likely to pass the cold germs on to your baby, but the antibodies your body produces to fight that cold also will be passed on through your milk. These antibodies will help your infant conquer the cold germs quickly and effectively and possibly avoid developing the cold altogether.2

Many mothers want to breastfeed but they stop early due to a lack of support and the discomfort they experience while breastfeeding in public. The U.S. Surgeon General notes that more than 66 percent of breastfeeding mothers have already begun using formula by the time their infants are 3 months old. And by 6 months more than half of the mothers have given up on breastfeeding, and mothers who breastfeed one-year-olds or toddlers are a rarity in our society.

Beloved, there are many public places where breastfeeding women are welcomed, but even in this 21st century, there are still many places that discourage mothers from breastfeeding in public, even though breastfeeding is the recommended way of feeding babies. It is my prayer, we are raising a generation who will be the change agents to break the taboo that is associated with public breastfeeding.


1 Feldman-Winter, L., & Goldsmith, J. P.; Committee on Fetus and Newborn, Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (2016). Safe sleep and skin-to-skin care in the neonatal period for healthy term newborns. Pediatrics, 138(3), e20161889. Retrieved December 20, 2016, from

2 New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Next Week: Continuation

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