Breastfeeding has garnered much attention in recent years. Research shows that breastfeeding carries benefits in many health-related areas. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the only source of an infant’s nutrition for the first six months of life, 75 percent of nutrition until the first birthday, and to continue beyond, if desired.
Breastfeeding is no longer considered just a food, but it is a medicine. The more and longer it is done, the longer and stronger the benefits for both mother and baby. Benefits include a huge boost to the baby›s immune system, establishment of a healthy intestinal system and increased cognitive development. There is also decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukemia, childhood illnesses, childhood diabetes, and multiple sclerosis among many other benefits. Newer studies link breastfeeding with a possible reduced risk of autism.
The benefits for mom include a faster postpartum recovery and weight loss, decreased risk of postpartum depression and decreased risk of female cancers. The benefits extend lifelong with reduced risk of diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides and obesity. Baby girls have a reduced risk of breast cancer in their lifetimes. Breastfeeding is a learned art. St. Clair Hospital’s Family Birth Center offers prenatal breastfeeding classes, and assistance by lactation consultants and the nursing staff during the hospital stay. Phone assistance and outpatient consults are available through the hospital’s Lactation Center.
Additional breastfeeding support is available for all new moms through “Breastfeeding, My Baby, and Me,” a group that meets twice monthly at the St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center Village Square in Bethel Park. For more information, call 412-942-5875 or visit the Community Education section of www.stclair.org .
Dr. Conway is an OB/GYN specialist at St. Clair Hospital. She can be contacted at 412-942-1066.