[This piece was written by Stephanie Avienu, BS, IBCLC, breastfeeding specialist with St. Peter’s Health Partners Community Health Programs.]
Internationally, the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, a movement begun in 1992 dedicated to breastfeeding education and promotion. In the United States, August is National Breastfeeding Month, so we celebrate breastfeeding all month long! Therefore, it’s the perfect time to review some of the reasons why breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for moms and babies.
Health Benefits for Mom
Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as some protection from heart disease in the future. They are also less likely to suffer from osteoporosis. There is some evidence that exclusive breastfeeding can have a fertility suppressing effect, giving the new mom time to recover from the pre- and postnatal period while she bonds with her baby.
Health Benefits for Baby
Babies who breastfeed have lower rates of obesity, a decreased risk of developing diabetes, and lower rates of certain kinds of cancer. Gastrointestinal illnesses and ear infections are also dramatically reduced in the breastfed infant. Children who were breastfed in infancy have been shown to score higher on IQ tests in later childhood.
Did you know that the benefits of breastfeeding don’t stop when the baby turns six months old? Each woman’s milk is perfectly designed for her baby and will adapt and change based on the child’s needs. Breastfeeding an older infant or toddler has positive effects on his/her mental and emotional development. Toddlers still desire the closeness and comfort that breastfeeding provides, even as they begin exploring solid foods.
Breastfeeding Support in the Capital District
St. Peter’s Health Partners and Schenectady County Public Health Services offer several drop-in breastfeeding support groups, known as Baby Cafés, in targeted, high-need locations throughout the region. Baby Cafés are relaxed and non-clinical environments where families can receive care from lactation professionals, free of charge.
Current Baby Café locations and hours in the Capital Region include:
301 Washington Avenue, Albany
Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to Noon
Phyllis Bornt Branch Library & Literacy Center
948 State Street, Schenectady
1st and 3rd Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CEO’s Community Resource Center, Third Floor
2328 5th Avenue, Troy
Wednesdays, Noon to 2 p.m.
3rd Thursday, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Two additional Baby Cafés are opening soon in:
Mont Pleasant Branch Library
1036 Crane Street, Schenectady
1st and 3rd Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Opening in September
169 Mohawk Street, #2, Cohoes
Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For more information on breastfeeding and the Baby Cafés in our area, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @CapitalRegionBabyCafes. Or, you can visit www.babycafeusa.org and www.healthprograms.org.