Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) kicked off World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) with a celebration of a cake cutting ceremony August 1. WBW is an annual celebration, held every year from August 1-7 and WAMC’s theme this year is foundation of life.

“This week is for awareness, education, and to promote breastfeeding,” said Danielle McLane, BSN, RN, International Board of Lactation Consultant Maternal Child Health, WAMC.

Before giving birth, many women face a decision of whether to breastfeed or not. While planning for a new arrival many women explore information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Beyond the benefits of bonding, which establishes strong emotional connections between a mother and their newborn, breastfeeding also has other various health benefits.

Breast milk contains antibodies that can contribute to an infant’s ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. Studies show that breastfeeding also lowers a newborn’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Babies, who are breastfed exclusively (without formula) for the first 6 months, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.

The benefits of breastfeeding are not solely limited to the child, but the mother as well.

Breastfeeding burns extra calories, which aids in helping the mother lose pregnancy weight faster. In addition, breastfeeding helps save money and time as the mother does not have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples or warm bottles.

“Breastfeeding actually reduces poverty and malnutrition, helps to promote the healthiest society ever.” It is important to educate people and let them know there is no other first beginning for a baby,” said Dietra Dalton RN, Lactation Consultant, Maternal Child Health, WAMC.

WAMC has many support groups that soon-to-be-mothers can utilize, along with breastfeeding classes, that are offered at a variety of times. They also provide tours and childbirth classes. Certified lactation consultants and internationally board certified lactation consultants are available to assist mothers who have difficulties with breastfeeding or other issues.

“We try to meet our patients where they are, understand the stressors and the issues they might have. Whether you are a stay at home mom, military mother or just working it can be hard,” said Dalton.

Another project that WAMC is working on is the Baby Friendly Hospital initiative. This is a 10 step process that mothers can go through to become successful with breastfeeding. It includes prenatal education, education for the staff and help with certain things in a patient is hospital stay that helps mothers be successful after giving birth with breastfeeding.

For more information about tours, breastfeeding, childbirth classes, call (910) 907-6000 or visit facebook.com/WomackAMC