Happy National Breastfeeding Month
This year's theme "Support Changes Everything" reminds us that the whole community plays a part in breastfeeding!
Food – or Milk – As Medicine
Although humans have breastfed since our species’ beginning, the amazing biological properties of human milk are a relatively recent scientific discovery. Breast milk is packed with:
- immune-system cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses
- growth hormones that promote healthy development and metabolism
- probiotics and prebiotics to establish healthy gut flora
What’s more, breast milk is highly adaptable to suit a child’s exact needs. For example, when an infant is born prematurely, mom’s body produces milk that is extra high in protein. When a child is sick, breast milk’s immunological factors change to help fight the infection. As a result, breastfed kids are less likely to have ear infections, respiratory illnesses, allergies, eczema, gastrointestinal issues, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby are life-long.
- Breastfed children are less likely to suffer from childhood cancers and adult obesity.
- Moms who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers, type II diabetes, and heart disease.
- While breastfeeding, both mom and baby release hormones that promote bonding and relaxation, which in turn helps prevent postpartum depression and encourages healthy emotional development.
More families breastfeeding means lower healthcare costs, and improved workforce productivity for our entire community.
It Takes a Village
Breastfeeding is not always easy due to busy lives and cultural pressures. But moms, don’t feel alone—you’ve got thousands of people who want to help you! Supporting breastfeeding takes our entire community.
- Call the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline for free 24/7 phone support: 855-4BFMOMS (855-423-6667)
- Get one-on-one guidance from a lactation expert at the Free Breastfeeding Clinic at St. Thomas Midtown (no appointment needed)
- See if you qualify for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides breastfeeding education and counseling, plus healthy foods to support mom’s nutrition needs. The WIC Mobile unit also comes to many libraries, which may be more convenient for you and your baby!
- Connect with other breastfeeding families at a La Leche League meeting in Nashville or Hermitage/Wilson County
- Visit the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition’s Resource Page for more support groups, classes, helplines, and services!
Support across the Nation
- Find a Lactation Consultant for hands-on help for any breastfeeding challenges you or your baby have. This may be covered by your health insurance.
- Join La Leche League’s Facebook Group (in both English and Spanish) for accurate breastfeeding tips and emotional support
- Check out "Your Guide to Breastfeeding," an easy-to-read breastfeeding roadmap
Not a Mom? We Still Need Your Help!
- When a new baby arrives, help around the house so Mom has more time and energy to breastfeed. Shopping for groceries, cooking meals, and doing laundry truly make a difference!
- Offer Mom emotional support to reach her breastfeeding goals. Give affirmation, high-fives, and a shoulder to lean on.
- Know and embrace our state’s breastfeeding laws. In Tennessee, “a mother may breastfeed in any public or private place she is authorized to be.” (TCA 68-58-101). That means restaurants, parks, concerts, libraries – you name it
Latch on to these books
This is a guest post by Grace Goodwin, MS, RD, LDN, CLC. Grace is a dietitian and the Breastfeeding Coordinator for Nashville’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. In addition to helping moms and babies with nutrition, Grace also loves yoga and exploring new restaurants in Nashville.