August 1st marked the beginning of National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week, celebrating the importance of breastfeeding in the U.S. and around the world. All month 1,000 Days will be highlighting the amazing benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby.
Breastfeeding gives baby the very best start to life — and the benefits reach far into the future. Numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding promotes healthy cognitive and social-emotional development. It also saves lives by helping to protect babies from infections, conditions such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. Breastfeeding even lowers a child’s risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Breastfeeding also has powerful health benefits for moms. It helps women’s bodies recover from childbirth and decreases the risk of postpartum bleeding. It also reduces a woman’s risk of heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Successful breastfeeding relies on women having enough time, energy and capacity – but women in every corner of the world face too many barriers to start and continue breastfeeding. In the U.S., about 1 in 6 babies is never breastfed, and more than half of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to. There are also notable disparities in breastfeeding rates. Globally, less than half of babies under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed – meaning they are missing out on the healthiest start to life.
No one breastfeeds alone. It takes support from everyone – from parents to policymakers, health facilities, communities and employers.
1,000 Days advocates for policies and programs that help women meet their breastfeeding goals, like access to comprehensive, equitable paid family and medical leave for all workers in the United States. Paid leave gives mothers the time they need to establish and continue breastfeeding without the added worry of sacrificing their family’s economic security. And studies show that children whose mothers take longer leaves from work are more likely to be breastfed and to be breastfed for longer.
Breastfeeding is a universal solution that gives everyone a fair start in life and lays the foundation for moms and babies to survive and thrive. We all have a role to play in supporting breastfeeding, and we hope you’ll join us this National Breastfeeding Month as a breastfeeding champion.