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August is National Breastfeeding Month!
- Have you heard of National Breastfeeding Month? Are you wondering, “Why is there a need to raise awareness about breastfeeding?”
- National breastfeeding month aims to educate mothers, soon-to-be moms, and the general public alike on the benefits of breastfeeding, and to de-stigmatize breastfeeding.
- Let’s cover everything you need to know about breastfeeding in this post!
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
Why Does National Breastfeeding Month Exist?
You’re here because you’re curious to learn about breastfeeding! August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. To raise awareness of breastfeeding and its importance to public health, let’s dive into the world of breastfeeding.
To begin with, breastfeeding is when an infant receives breast milk from a mom immediately after birth until a year (or more) as a source of nutrition. Newborns and infants cannot consume water or other food since they do not have the digestive capacity to do so.
As a result, newborns and infants need to rely on mom’s breastmilk, infant formula, or a combination of both in order to survive and thrive.
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and infant.
Some benefits for breastfeeding for mom include:
More bonding time with baby
- Less postpartum bleeding
- Helps the uterus return to its pre-birth size
Some benefits for breastfeeding for baby include:
- More robust immune systems
- Healthier bond with mom
- Provides the ideal nutrient intake for infants
What Does This Mean for Nurses?
Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom and baby and significant public health implications for healthier communities. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the benefits.
Breastfeeding is an important topic since many people, especially first-time moms, might not be aware of the process of breastfeeding.
Many people think breastfeeding is an easy, fast process where someone simply brings out a breast to feed an infant. However, this is far from the truth.
Breastfeeding requires many things, such as:
- Support to physically hold the infant
- A supply of breastmilk
- Space to breastfeed
- Breastfeeding supplies, such as a breast pump or nipple shield
- Knowledge of any breast conditions that can arise from breastfeeding, such as mastitis
- Social encouragement to breastfeed, and more.
How Can Nurses Support and Encourage Breastfeeding?
You can talk to your patients about breastfeeding and highlight:
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Places to buy breastfeeding equipment
- Ways to talk about breastfeeding with a patient’s support system
- Ways to navigate insurance coverage for lactation classes or breastfeeding materials, and
- Practical ways to store breastmilk
How Can I Raise Awareness of Breastfeeding in My Workplace?
You can look into current breastfeeding awareness materials at your workplace or ask your workplace on their breastfeeding policies. If you notice that patients are having concerns about breastfeeding, you could also bring this up with management and nurse educators.
If you work with a lot of pediatric or expectant patients, having multiple resources in the clinical setting on breastfeeding can provide conversational opportunities for patients to ask about breastfeeding.
Most importantly, more education on breastfeeding and practical resources are essential to breastfeeding awareness. If you are truly passionate about breastfeeding education, you could also consider getting certified to be a lactation consultant.
Why Should I Care About National Breastfeeding Month?
Breastfeeding has existed for centuries, yet it is extremely stigmatized. Many women often stop breastfeeding because they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the physical toll it takes, the stigma that comes with breastfeeding and pumping milk, and the time it takes to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can be several times a day, especially for newborns. New moms are often overwhelmed, sleep deprived, and unsupported.
Breastfeeding is a serious nursing issue since it is something many moms would like to do, but often lack the resources to do. That’s where nurses come in. Nurses remain the most trusted profession for a reason. Patients know that nurses can be that trusted source of information and support.
By advocating for and educating patients, nurses can change someone’s perceptions on breastfeeding and provide practical resources to help more moms breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is a public health issue that affects women, babies, and their families. If you are passionate about education, public health, and empowerment, ask yourself how you can help patients learn more about breastfeeding today.
The Bottom Line
If you are interested in learning more about breastfeeding, I would recommend looking into the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE); the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN); and the American Nurse Association.
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