Mothers around the world work to normalize breastfeeding

Milky Mama provides treats to improve lactation

Kianna Shann | OW Contributor | 8/18/2016, midnight
All month long mothers across the nation and around the world are celebrating the benefits and normalization of breastfeeding.

All month long mothers across the nation and around the world are celebrating the benefits and normalization of breastfeeding.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and Aug. 1 - 7 was World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. Black Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from Aug. 25-31.

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need, say advocates. The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

In addition to those power-packing nutrients, breastfeeding also provides a laundry list of other benefits including, but not limited to: long term risk reduction of developing chronic conditions such as type I diabetes, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease; stronger bones; lower SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) risk; and babies have a better antibody response to vaccines than formula-fed infants.

When it comes to mothers, there are also many benefits including: better healing post delivery; lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer; it burns calories aiding in dropping baby weight; if done according to guidelines it serves as a reliable source of birth control; and it’s free. The cost of formula can range anywhere from $134 to $491 per month.

Though breastfeeding can be both a beautiful and empowering experience, for some mothers it proves to be a bit of a challenge. During the nursing stages, it can become very difficult for a mother to produce enough milk to feed her child. Mothers sometimes find that a few months into nursing their supply of milk begins to run low.

Some women choose less traditional methods of increasing their milk supply such as eating their placenta, or age-old remedies like rubbing cabbage leaves on their breasts.

Eliza Lewis, a working mother of one said, “Breastfeeding can be difficult, but you have to focus on the benefit for your child. It’s natural and healthy and an amazing bonding experience for you and your child. I wish I would have seen someone doing it. I wish more women were open about how difficult it can be and how your nipples will look after.”

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that only 62 percent of African American mothers are breastfeeding their children. A 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, reports that there are many barriers that are currently keeping women from breastfeeding, one being a lack of education and support around nursing.

Certain hospitals that serve Black communities are reportedly failing to fully support breastfeeding. In its most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC reported that hospitals may play a role in the racial discrepancies. The CDC found that facilities in zip codes with more than 12.2 percent Black residents were less likely than hospitals in zip codes with fewer Black residents to meet five of 10 indicators that show hospitals are supporting breastfeeding.