The Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) is taking part in a statewide initiative this month that encourages breastfeeding by raising awareness about the benefits.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, all babies, with rare exceptions, should be breastfed or receive expressed human milk exclusively for the first six months of life. LCHD Health Promotion Coordinator Natasha Radke says breastfeeding leads to positive outcomes for the mother and baby, including boosted immunity for babies due to hormones and antibodies found in breastmilk. She notes that it provides good and well-balanced nutrition, and is low cost or essentially no cost.

Radke says the benefits can be connected at a higher level as well. In addition to preventing hunger and malnutrition, she notes that it also reduces poverty and ensures food security for babies. Radke says other benefits are that it leads to better health outcomes that extend into adulthood, including a reduced risk for illnesses like certain cancers and high blood pressure. She adds that breastfeeding is beneficial for the mother as well as it can help with weight loss and is a way for the mother to bond with the baby.

Activities are planned throughout the state to draw attention to the importance of breastfeeding including a Community Breastfeeding Walk on Thursday, August 15th, at the Frank J. Kelley Capitol Walkway in Lansing. Lack of promotional and educational efforts about the benefits of breastfeeding are said to result in lower breastfeeding rates in many communities, including communities of color. In an effort to spread awareness, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has named the week of August 25th through the 31st as Black Breastfeeding Week. (DK)