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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

By Dr Lorraine Cole

Giving our babies the best care possible isn't a choice: It's an
obligation. So as you prepare for the arrival of your little one,
making all of the important new-mom decisions, here are the
good (and the keeping-it-real) facts about breastfeeding.

Why is breastfeeding so important to the well-being of our
babies?

The simple truth: babies were born to be breast-fed. And,
there's no exact replica of this life-sustaining nourishment
that only moms can provide.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breast
milk be the only food or liquid given for the first six months of
life for most full-term, healthy babies.

Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants,
with the perfect balance of fat, sugar, water and protein
needed for a baby's optimal growth and development.

Also, with more than 200 infection-fighting agents, breast
milk also provides the best protection from infections by
sharing the mother's immunities with the baby, until the baby
has a chance to build up his/her own immune system.

Recent studies also show that babies who aren't
breastfed exclusively for the first six months are likely to
suffer more colds, flu, ear infections, respiratory illnesses,
make more visits to the doctor and develop childhood
obesity.

With all of these benefits, why do Black women have
consistently lower breastfeeding rates compared to other
races?

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention's 2003 National Immunization Survey (the most
current resource on breastfeeding practices and statistics),
only 51 percent of Black American women ever attempt
breastfeeding and only 9.8 percent of these mothers are
exclusively breastfeeding at six months postpartum.

This sister-to sister resource aims to answer many of your
breastfeeding questions, from the concerns you'd only
share with a girlfriend to the issues only a breastfeeding
counselor (lactation consultant) and doctor should address
- in order to help you make the best decisions for both you
and your child.

If you still have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor
or a breastfeeding counselor.

The writer is the CEO of America's Black Women's Health
Initiative

Why Babies should be Breastfed

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