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Breastfeeding: A Gift of Love

WIC in St. Lucie County


Benefits of Breastfeeding
Research proves many benefits of breastfeeding not available from artificial baby milk:

  • Breastfeeding provides "human milk for human babies" for optimal brain development.
  • Immune system protection with live antibodies passed on from mother.
  • Fewer infections.
  • Digestive compatibility with probiotics for a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
  • Research shows that breastfed babies have higher IQ's (intelligence quotients) than babies fed infant formula.
  • The onset of allergies is delayed.
  • Breastfed babies may have a decreased risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes.
  • Mothers who breastfeed may have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is associated with greater health benefits.

Pediatricians Recommend Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant."

Implementation of the following 5 postpartum hospital practices has been demonstrated to increase breastfeeding duration, irrespective of socioeconomic status: breastfeeding in the first hour after birth, exclusive breastfeeding, rooming-in, avoidance of pacifiers, and receipt of telephone number for support after discharge from the hospital. Pediatrics, Vol. 129 No. 3 March 1, 2012, pp. e827 to e841.

The alert, healthy newborn infant is capable of latching onto a breast without specific assistance within the first hour after birth. This is amazing to know the baby naturally bonds with mother, if allowed to do so. The bonding produced by close contact between mother and baby increases the feelings of love toward her baby, which is the body's natural hormonal response to breastfeeding.

More Reasons to Breastfeed

  • Convenience of feeding baby without need to wash bottles and prepare, especially in the middle of the night.
  • Making up bottles and carrying them around is eliminated when a mother chooses to breastfeed.
  • Decreased infections for baby means less hospital and doctor sick baby visits and less time off of work for working mothers.
  • Breastfeeding releases hormones in the mother's body that helps return her uterus back to normal size and returning to her pre-pregnancy weight sooner.
  • Provides continuous food supply for infant in times of natural disaster when water may be contaminated and formula supplies depleted.

WIC Offers Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program
The Healthy People 2020 National Breastfeeding objective proposes that 81.9% of women will choose to breastfeed. In the St Lucie County WIC Program, 77% of mothers enrolled as of April, 2017, chose to breastfeed their babies reflecting a continual upward trend.

Contraindications to Breastfeeding
However, for those women who are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons including HIV-positive status; drug-abuse or who must take medications that are harmful to breastmilk quality, artificial infant formula is the next best alternative. We always encourage women to check with their physician regarding questions on medical conditions and breastfeeding.

To learn more about our local Peer Counselor Program, you may contact Michelle Hoff, IBCLC at (772) 873-4891 and leave a message on her voice mail. WIC is an equal opportunity provider.