(RxWiki News) Besides being among the most wonderful moments a new mother can experience, breastfeeding your infant is very important for your child's future health. Breastfeeding benefits babies' health in many ways.
Breast milk is rich in nutrients and has antibodies which help protect infants from infections. Research indicates that breastfeeding also helps prevent the development of allergies.
In the United States, only 14 percent of babies exclusively breastfeed the first six months of life. In 2010, with the Surgeon General's Call to Breastfeeding Action, the U.S. government offered ideas on how to improve breastfeeding outcomes which can improve overall national health.
"If possible, breastfeed your baby for six months."
The Call to Breastfeeding Action asks nurses to encourage women to breastfeed after delivering their babies. Diane L. Spatz, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing explains that the role of nurses is critical in encouraging women and families to achieve breastfeeding goals. They're uniquely able to emphasize breastfeeding and educate patients on the importance of nursing to the health of babies.
Nurses are uniquely situated to be quite impactful in the lives of their communities and often can influence their community over the span of their lifetime. In some communities, nurses are the only health care providers, so these providers definitely can impact the prevalence of breastfeeding in their communities.
Breastfeeding also benefits the mom: It's clean, simple, eliminates the need for formulas and mixing formulas, it's cheap, helps contract your uterus after childbirth and delays the return of your period. The loving time you spend with your baby also adds to the connection to your baby.
The article covered in this story is published in the May 2011 issue of Nursing Outlook.