International board-certified lactation consultant Christine Sneed discussed the benefits of breastfeeding to mothers, babies and society prior to the meal.
She said mothers who breastfeed tend to have a faster postpartum recovery and faster weight loss.
Studies have revealed a higher hormonal health, relaxation and easier discipline for mothers who breastfeed. She said there is also a reduced incidence of osteoporosis and a decreased risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
Babies who are breastfed tend to have brighter brains, higher IQ scores, leaner adult bodies, better eyes, better hearing, better hearts, a nicer smile and better breathing, experts maintain. Sneed said a breastfed baby will often have better intestinal health, immunities, a better sense of taste, healthier skin and a decreased risk for childhood obesity.
Families who follow “optimal breastfeeding” practices can save $1,200 to $1,500 in expenditures for infant formula. This information was released in a Call to Action by U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.
Sneed also informed the luncheon guests a study revealed the United States could save over $13 billion annually, “if 90 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed for six months.”
Additional benefits to society included less waste, less illness, lower public health care costs and more productivity in the workplace due to less missed work.
Sneed looked to the American Academy of Pediatrics to determine how long a mother should breastfeed.
“You should exclusively breastfeed for six months and continue to one year of life,” she said. “The World Health Organization goes further and they tell us to 24 months and beyond. The average worldwide is 36 months.”
She presented a slideshow of mothers breastfeeding from as early as Europe in the 1200s.
Sneed encouraged mothers at the luncheon to realize breastfeeding is a normal part of life. According to her slideshow, breastfeeding was socially accepted in the United States until formula become popular in the 1940s. She assured the luncheon guests their presence alone would help to once again normalize the act of breastfeeding.
Danielle Wade agreed breastfeeding was the best course of action for her and her 12-week-old daughter Hazel.
“It has been extremely, extremely difficult. Me and her have had almost every problem you can have in the book,” she said. “Even rare things people don’t deal with. At 12 weeks, we still haven’t gotten it straightened out.”
Wade added, “It is so worth it. I’ve bonded so much with her and I have a sense of accomplishment every time I [breastfeed].”
She said breastfeeding allows her to put positive nourishment in her baby’s body without the risk of possible toxins from formulas.
Breastfeeding peer counselor Kendra Steveson labeled the luncheon a success.
She said the celebration provided an opportunity to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week while honoring the mothers who chose “the best thing for their baby.”