Gov. Rick Snyder has declared the month of August to be Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan.
To highlight the commitment Michigan has made to ensuring the long-term health of all mothers, infants, and children in the state, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is encouraging men, fathers, family, and friends to support new mothers as they begin to breastfeed.
Studies have shown that when mom has support, she's more likely to breastfeed so that both she and baby get the maximum health and developmental benefits.
This year's theme, "Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers," highlights the importance of peer support.
Researchers have found that with support, women breastfeed longer, Michigan Department of Community Health officials said.
This is important considering the well documented evidence that breast milk is important for the health and well-being of both mother and infant.
"Breastfeeding is about babies' healthy nutrition, and so much more," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.
"We know that babies who breastfeed have less chance of childhood obesity, and better protection against illnesses than babies who do not breastfeed," Dr. Davis said in a statement.
"Plus, breastfeeding helps build a close bond between mothers and babies, and fathers can be part of that bond too," he said. "Raising awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding not only with moms, but with men as well, is key to supporting the overall health of moms and their children."
Michigan has made the reduction of infant mortality and the improvement of overall health for women and children a priority.
Breastfeeding is a proven prevention strategy, protecting both infants and mothers from a host of chronic and acute disease and conditions. Research shows that breastfed babies have fewer colds and ear infections. In addition, the nutrients in breast milk help build the baby's brain and immune system.
The Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Breastfeeding Network, and the United States Breastfeeding Committee, along with many more community breastfeeding coalitions across Michigan are working throughout the month of August to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding in an effort to make Michigan a more 'breastfeeding friendly' state.
Below are some common questions about breastfeeding.
1. How long should I breastfeed?
- Your doctor may recommend breastfeeding for the first year of your baby's life.
- Any amount of breastfeeding is better than none.
2. When do I start?
- It's a good idea to talk about breastfeeding with your health care provider before you have your baby.
- This way you can have a good idea of what to expect.
- When you arrive at the hospital, tell the nurses that you plan to breastfeed.
- Ask them to not feed your baby formula and to avoid giving him or her a pacifier.
3. How do I start?
- Being close with your baby as soon as possible after delivery gets breastfeeding off to the best start.
- Ask the hospital staff for help with putting your baby to the breast as soon as possible after delivery.
- Some hospitals place your baby on your stomach in the delivery room.
- Believe it or not, your baby will naturally crawl to your breast and begin feeding.
- Keep baby in your room during the day and night so you can feed often.
- Be patient with yourself.
- It takes a few days for baby and mom to get used to each other.
- It's like learning to dance; practice makes perfect.
4. Will it hurt?
- You may have tender nipples in the first few days, but soreness and pain should not be part of the breastfeeding process.
- If you experience these, you need to get some help.
- Most often it is a simple matter of changing baby's feeding position.
- Until you and your baby get to know each other, it may take some practice for your baby to learn to latch on and nurse easily.
5. How do I know I have enough milk?
- Feeding often is the way to build your milk supply.
- Newborn babies will want to eat every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
- In the beginning, feedings will last about 30 minutes.
- Nursing for as long and as often as baby wants is important.
- Your breasts will adjust to make the amount of milk your baby wants and needs.
- Your baby may nurse more often during growth spurts and your body will adjust to increase your milk supply.
6. Can I go back to work or school?
- Breastfeeding does not have to end because you want to go back to work or school.
- You can do what works best for you.
- Many mothers pump their breastmilk and store it in bottles when they return to work or school.
- These should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer for use when you can't be there to breastfeed.