Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Breastfeeding Month provides reminder of benefits

Imagine a free, perfect infant food that is available as soon as the baby is born, does not run out, might prevent many illnesses throughout the life of mother and child, and encourages the mother-infant bond — yes, that would be breast milk!

It is no wonder that most of today's moms breastfeed their babies and that breastfeeding is celebrated as a key component of sustainable development. Gov. Larry Hogan has officially proclaimed August 2016 as Breastfeeding Month in Maryland, and he calls upon citizens to encourage and support breastfeeding.


It often takes practice for the mother and baby to feel comfortable breastfeeding. Once nursing becomes routine, it helps the mom to relax and feel closer to her baby. Also, moms can feel proud knowing they are giving a special gift to her child that only she can provide.

Mom's milk alone meets a baby's nutritional needs during the first six months of life. It provides optimal nutrition for growth and development, as well as natural immunity against infection and allergies. After this time, in combination with family foods, mom's milk continues to meet the needs of the older baby and toddler.


Women who breastfeed only — and whose babies are at least 6 months old — are eligible to receive the largest amount of nutritious foods offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program For Women And Children, or WIC.

Breastfeeding prevents illness. Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics have revealed that breastfed babies are less likely to be sick: less pneumonia, serious colds, ear and throat infections, gastrointestinal tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, atopic dermatitis, eczema, obesity, and type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding mothers also benefit: more rapid return to pre-pregnant weight, less risk of postpartum depression, and decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

And if all of these reasons are not enough to celebrate breastfeeding, breast milk is the ultimate "green" food. The supply is renewable and unlimited. During times when water is unsafe for formula preparation, power is out or roads are closed, breast milk is available. Also, there is no pollution from making and transporting this food, and no packaging and plastic bottles that end up in landfills.

Many of today's breastfeeding mothers face the challenge of being separated from the baby while at work. Savvy employers understand the benefit of allowing mothers time to express breast milk during the workday: they are less likely to miss work due to sickness, leading to improved productivity and morale, and lower health insurance costs.

The Carroll County WIC program is committed to helping families have positive, successful breastfeeding experiences, and the qualified staff is ready to offer encouragement and answer breastfeeding questions.

Breastfeeding is healthy and cost-effective, and gives children a great start. For more information, call WIC at the Carroll County Health Department at 410-876-4459.

Barbara Regan, RD, LDN, is coordinator of the Carroll County WIC program.