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How Breastfeeding Affects You and Your Baby

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How Breastfeeding Affects You and Your Baby

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that infants are exclusively breastfed at least until six months of age. While breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding infants, it is often not easy for all mothers to breastfeed their children.  

Why Breastfeeding is Recommended 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are many benefits for mother and child when it comes to breastfeeding.  

Benefits for Infants (Lowers the Risk of):  Benefits for Mothers (Lowers the risk of): 
  • Asthma 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Obesity 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Type 1 Diabetes 
  • Ovarian cancer 
  • Ear infections 
  • Breast cancer 

 

Factors that Affect Breastfeeding 

It is unrealistic to expect all infants to breastfeed because there are multiple factors that can affect a mother’s ability to breastfeed:  

  • Issues with lactation and latching 
  • Infant’s nutrition and weight 
  • Employment and Child Care 
  • Lack of parental leave  
  • Lack of support from family, friends, community 
  • Cultural Norms/Embarrassment 
  • Lack of Knowledge 
  • Unsupportive hospital practices/policies 

 

 

Due to issues like these, about 60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to. Other factors that affect breastfeeding are age, location, and race. Data from the CDC has shown that mothers aged 20-29 years are less likely to breastfeed compared to mothers who are 30 years old and above. Infants that live in the Southeast region of the United States are less likely to be breastfed than infants anywhere else in the country. Black infants are less likely to be breastfed compared to White, Hispanic, or Asian infants.  

How AFSPA Can Help 

Expecting mothers enrolled in the Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) can earn $75 in wellness rewards. Just ask their provider to submit documentation of a prenatal care visit during the first trimester.  

FSBP members in the US, can participate in AbleTo, an eight-week support program that addresses the emotional and behavioral needs of individuals that experienced a life event like having a baby. To learn more about this program, read more here: www.AbleTo.com/enroll 

Telehealth services are offered for stateside and overseas members to ask questions about breastfeeding or about pregnancy in general. Stateside members can learn more at http://www.teladoc.com and overseas members can find more information at https://globalcareondemand.com/aetna. 

FSBP members have maternity care benefits that include breast pumps and other supplies. Read more about what is offered for FSBP members on page 43 of our FSBP Brochure.  

How Can We Shift the Narrative of Breastfeeding 

In 2011, the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services created a Call-to-Action to help shift how America thinks and talks about breastfeeding. This call to action has resources and steps to follow for those in health care, communities, mothers and their families, and employers.  

The action steps include everything from paid maternity leave to education and training for healthcare professionals. The overall message is that breastfeeding is a normal, healthy practice that should be supported in all facets of life.  

The U.S Breastfeeding Committee’s 2022 theme is “Together We Do Great Things!” The USBC believes that change cannot occur from one singular person or organization, but that it happens with a daily effort by everyone. From reading this blog to having open discussions about breastfeeding with your family, friends, community, or even employers can help breastfeeding become a more accessible avenue for mothers to feed their infants.  

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