The U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin today issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breast feed their babies.   While 75% of U.S. babies start out breast feeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, only 13 % are are exclusively breastfed at the end of six month.   The rates are particularly low among African-American infants.

Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home, lack of information on breastfeeding from health care clinicians, a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace, and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in the community.

Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia.   Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma, and those who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.  Mothers themselves who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers according to the Call to Action.

A study published in Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90% of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months.   Dr. Benjamin added that, by providing accommodations for nursing mothers, employers can reduce their company's health care costs and lower their absenteeism and turnover rates.

On a personal note, I just got back from Brazil and noticed the number of women that were casually nursing their babies in public---at the beach, in airports and even in restaurants.   The U.S. has not quite reached this level of acceptance and, hopefully, this initiative by the surgeon general will help move us forward.    Having a female surgeon general may make the difference!  Check out the Call to Action, it has a lot of excellent resources!

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Comments

I believe there are great health benefits to nursing a baby. It is so good for the baby to get that milk from the mommy and it is good for the mommy too! There has been several reports on how the nursing mother's hormone levels are different than when bottle feeding. This hormone difference has been linked to lower cancer rates. I think the body was meant to provide nutrition for the baby. That is how we were designed. It must be good for us right? Thanks for the article.

I totally agree that breastfeeding bring more benefits to both mother and baby, I think there is nothing be ashamed about breastfeeding. I hope more mothers now a days will breastfeed their babies. Thanks for sharing this post. Janelle.

I'm pleased the surgeon general spoke out on this, It's not only no secret that 'breast is best' and any doctor will confirm this, but how many recalls of breast milk are you aware of??? Oh, none? That's right, not one. How many recalls of formula have you ever heard of over the last many years? I don't understand trusting some big company for making powdered milk for your baby unless that is the only possible way they can thrive. There are standards for these companies allowing a margin of error and allowable contaminants...Hmm, think about that. Your body makes ideal nutrition for your little one, why wouldn't you allow your child to get the best from the beginning??

It's really important for women and would be mothers to understand the importance of breastfeeding especially during the early months of a baby's life. This is the time when their children can boost their immunity through the milk they get from their mother. Great post!

The fact is any new mother should take the time to find out from their own mom about breastfeeding but if they still cant get the info they should turn to their doctor,midwives or other mothers out there. All you have to do is ask.

The UK haven't reached that level of acceptance either :( If I do see a woman nursing in public it always makes me smile a little to know I'm not the only one.

I strongly feel that breastfeeding is a basic right and almost an obligation of a mother to her baby. Anyone saying differently is simply defying human nature. It's such a shame that most of the mothers don't breastfeed all the way.

Breastfeeding certainly makes a difference. I bottle fed my firstborn due to a difficult delivery and was able to nurse my second child. The number of ear infections on my girl who was breast fed was none and my firstborn had numerous ear infections.

I agree with the factors that impede breastfeeding: lack of support and information especially. In my case, when I breastfed our son, I was fortunate to have found excellent materials that helped me how to get baby to latch properly, but it really would've been different if there had been actually somebody coaching me. Due to nipple issues, I stopped breastfeeding at 3 months, but I think it might've been avoided if someone could've helped.

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