Breastfeeding for two years or more can lower a child’s risk for respiratory tract infections, severe diarrhea and ear infections as well as decrease the breastfeeding mother’s risk for maternal Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
“We already knew breastfeeding through the first year was beneficial to both mother and baby, but we have learned just how very beneficial breastfeeding can be and that has caused experts to revise their previous recommendations,” said Linda Kennedy, a registered nurse and lactation services facilitator in the Maternal Infant Health Center at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.
The AAP had previously recommended children be exclusively breastfed for about six months, at which point solid foods are introduced in addition to breastfeeding through the child’s first year. A policy statement issued by the AAP in late June recommends breastfeeding for two years or more.
Jacksonville Memorial Hospital offers a free breastfeeding support group at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in Meeting Room 1 inside the hospital, 1600 W. Walnut St., Jacksonville.
Certified lactation consultants lead the group. They encourage participants to engage in open discussion as they learn to overcome challenges to breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding can be challenging to maintain, even for seasoned breastfeeding moms, and that can lead to early weaning. Moms returning to work may need specific tips for pumping and storing expressed milk or initiating conversations with an employer about the law in place requiring them to have a safe, clean place to pump that is not a bathroom,” said Kennedy. “Other moms find the comfort, security and confidence they need to achieve their breastfeeding goals through the in-person interaction we have in the group.”
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 84 percent of babies born in Illinois start out being breastfed. Fifty-four percent are still breastfeeding at 6 months, with 25 percent breastfed exclusively. Thirty-two percent of babies are still breastfed at one year