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Promoting Health Through Breastfeeding

by CAPT Suzanne England, Maternal Child Health Consultant, Great Plains Area, Indian Health Service

During the month of August, IHS is observing National Breastfeeding Month Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov to bring attention to one of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant.

Breastfeeding Recommendation

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all healthy babies breastfeed without any supplementation for the first six months of life. Beyond six months of life, children should begin having solid food and breastfeed for two years or longer.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Children

Human breastmilk is the perfect food for newborns and infants. Breastmilk contains maternal antibodies that protects the child from common childhood illnesses such as ear infections and diarrhea. Ongoing research suggests that breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity that can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mothers

Breastfeeding is a special time that encourages strong bonds between mother and child. Women who breastfeed decrease their risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. Frequently, breastfeeding women return quickly to their pre-pregnancy weight and lower their risk of obesity. 

Breastfeeding Benefits for Society

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of illness in young children and lost time from work for parents caring for sick children.

Breastmilk is available twenty-four hours a day and requires no special preparation decreasing family food budget costs.

Breastfeeding encourages the building of positive relationships with caregivers.

Breastfeeding Support

Everyone can support breastfeeding. 

  1. Encourage women to breastfeed their children
  2. Praise women for breastfeeding.
  3. Support and or assist in the development of breastfeeding support groups for breastfeeding mothers.

More resources:

Indian Health Service and Baby Friendly

Making the Decision to Breastfeed Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

Benefits of Breastfeeding Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

World Health Organization and Breastfeeding Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

American Academy of Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

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CAPT Suzanne England, Maternal Child Health Consultant, Great Plains Area, Indian Health Service
Captain Suzanne England DNP, CNM, CFNP, PMHNP is the IHS Great Plains Area Maternal Child Health Consultant for the tribal nations in North and South Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. She is triple boarded as a certified nurse midwife, family nurse practitioner and a family psychiatric nurse practitioner. Captain England received her DNP from Arizona State University, MSN from the University of New Mexico and BSN from the University of Evansville.