The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week and it has been for 20 years. This year’s theme is The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding. Those long-term benefits apply to both mothers and babies. When babies are fed human milk, they are more likely to avoid obesity, less likely to die from SIDS, and have a lower risk of many diseases including several cancers and type 2 diabetes. Mothers get immediate and long-term benefits from breastfeeding, including a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and a lower risk of postpartum depression.
While this may be breastfeeding awareness week – we promote breastfeeding all year long in Arizona. ADHS provides resources to breastfeeding mothers such as a 24-hour Breastfeeding Hotline at 800-833-4642. Each month, the hotline takes hundreds of calls from parents with questions about breastfeeding techniques, medications, going back to work, and more. Other breastfeeding support includes Arizona Baby Steps to Breastfeeding Success – our partnership to promote breastfeeding-friendly maternity care practices. ADHS also offers a certification for Breastfeeding-Friendly Childcare Centers. Last, but not least, the Arizona WIC program is the largest breastfeeding support resource in the state, providing mothers and babies with access to skilled lactation help, breast pumps, and more.
Arizona is not alone in recognizing that breastfeeding is one of the best preventative care measures. Healthy People 2020 cites the need for increasing the rate of breastfeeding and improving breastfeeding support in hospitals. The group that Joint Commission recently made breastfeeding one of its core measures for maternity care hospitals. Last year, the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, which detailed ways for health providers to increase the level of support provided to new mothers.