Breastfeeding Week: For a healthier community

VALLEY — Breastfeeding is incredibly important but not always an easily established partnership with your new baby, one that once fine tuned, creates a healthy and meaningful gift for you and your baby.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s World Breastfeeding Week logo, and theme, for 2018 is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life -Better Health, Better Well Being and Brighter Future. WIC and the Breastfeeding Coalition groups have really set the path for reminding us that breastfeeding is important for not just mother’s and their babies but also families, our community and our environment.

Babies that are breastfed suffer less ear infections and lung infections. They are less likely to develop asthma, allergies, eczema, obesity, diabetes, leukemia, other childhood cancers, and SIDS. They have higher intellectual potential lending to things like more success in school, extra curricular activities and future careers.

Breastfeeding mom’s benefit from faster time back to their pre pregnancy weight, lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, breast and ovarian cancers. They experience less stress as they don’t have to worry about which formula to choose, how to mix, warm and feed the correct volume or make sure that milk isn’t expired or recalled. And, they experience higher satisfaction and confidence in their relationships with and parenting their babies.

Community and families benefit from more happy and productive women contributing back to their home and work places. Colorado law requires that employers with one or more employees support the mission of breastfeeding by allowing women to express milk for up to two years after their baby is born and provide a private and equipped location in close proximity to their work area during a break time. Employers’ investment in their breastfeeding employees only reaps rewards — decreased employee absenteeism and lower healthcare costs from healthier babies — lower turnover rates and higher productivity from more satisfied employees.

And our environment — both locally and globally — benefit from decreased production and waste, costs and stresses, by eliminating the need to raise cows for their milk, build and run factories to produce feedable formula compounds, clean water, formula cans, bottles, nipples, bottle brushes and bottle cleansing systems and minimizes the need to create disposal sites for all of the trash that results.

It is so important that those of you who are currently breastfeeding continue your journeys and find women to support in their current or future breastfeeding journeys. It is also important for families, friends, employers, and community members to support these women as we all work toward the World Alliance for Breastfeeding’s goal of better health, better well being and a brighter future.

Mikaila Heldt Pence, MD is a General Pediatrician with San Luis Valley Health.