It’s one month into New Years resolutions of weight loss and a week past National Healthy Weight Week and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a reminder for new moms: breastfeeding can provide the foundation for healthy weight — for both you and your baby.
Breast milk is designed by the body to provide the nutrients a baby needs based on age and feeding habits. Breast milk protects against a myriad of infections and conditions that contribute to infant mortality and morbidity, including childhood obesity. For moms, it can help them return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies breastfeed for at least six months, but while a initiation rates tend to be high (79.4 percent in Northeast Florida), durations rates drop significantly. At six months, only 46.2 percent of mothers continued to breastfeed in Florida in 2011; only 19.2 percent breastfed exclusively.
In Florida, more then 40 percent of mothers enter into pregnancy either overweight or obese. Postpartum weight loss can be improved by breastfeeding exclusively, which can burn about 500 calories a day. Breastfeeding is also linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases.
In 2011, the U.S. Surgeon General released a Call to Action outlining ways to improve breastfeeding rates and better support mothers who choose to breastfeed.