Breastfeeding is considered the optimal feeding choice for babies according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Yet, only 16.3 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed their infants at six months old, as stated in the CDC’s breastfeeding report card released in August. Aggressive marketing by formula companies is likely a significant contributing factor to this low rate.
The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and well documented. Research shows that breast fed babies have higher IQs and lower incidence of chronic diseases later in life, including diabetes, obesity, allergies, certain types of cancer, and heart diseases. Breast milk provides specific nutrition to meet the growing baby’s needs, helping improve the immune system and promote development. Mothers benefit from breastfeeding as well as it helps reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding, and decreases the risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.
Society also benefits when babies are fed breast milk. Breastfeeding reduces the amount of money spent on health care because breastfed infants contract fewer infections than formula-fed babies; working moms tend to miss fewer days of work due to baby’s illness.
“One study found that if 90 percent of U.S. families breastfed babies exclusively for six months, the U.S. would save $13 billion per year and prevent more than 900 deaths (nearly all of which would be infants),” said Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, an M.D. and internationally recognized lactation specialist.
So if breastfeeding is so beneficial, why are so many American families still spending $800 to $2,000 each year on formula for their newborns?
Breastfeeding advocates argue that decades of aggressive marketing by formula manufacturers have convinced women that formula feeding is just as good as breastfeeding. Formula companies distribute formula bags, a tote containing formula advertisements, free samples, and coupons, to hospitals around the country, which are given as “gifts” to new moms. Research shows that receiving these free gifts may cause women to end breastfeeding early. Many women believe their breast milk may not provide sufficient nutrients for a growing baby and feel the need to supplement with formula. Ultimately these tactics work, resulting in a multi-billion dollar formula industry, as well as low breastfeeding rates.
With so much at stake in terms of mom and baby health, medical officials and government organizations are reaffirming their position that breast is best. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months, and continue as solids are introduced until at least the end of the first year. The Healthy People 2020 Breastfeeding Objectives hope to increase the number of moms who exclusively breastfeed at six months by nearly 10 percent.
Many businesses have also stepped up to help the cause. Cottonwood Kids aims to counteract the destructive impact of the formula bag by distributing baby-friendly bags to hospitals, which include educational information, samples, and product literature to promote breastfeeding.
“Since we launched the program, our distribution has grown from 0 to 700 hospitals in all 50 states,” Cottonwood Kids Founder Erik Maurer said. “During World Breastfeeding Month, we shipped our one millionth breastfeeding bag!”
Fairhaven Health, a Cottonwood Kids supporter, advocates breastfeeding as the optimal feeding choice for mom and baby, and is committed to helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals. While breastfeeding is the natural biological way to feed a baby, it is not always easy for mom and baby to establish a routine. Fairhaven Health offers a line of products to support breastfeeding moms and recently released a concentrated Fenugreek supplement, an all-natural product designed to help increase breast milk production. Fenugreek is the most researched herb for supporting breast milk production, and, in most cases, nursing women see increased milk production within the first two to three days after beginning supplementation. Fairhaven Health also manufactures Nursing Blend, a comprehensive breastfeeding supplement providing complete vitamin and mineral support for Mom as well as herbs such as fenugreek to help with milk production.
About Fairhaven Health
Fairhaven Health manufactures safe, natural, doctor-designed products to promote fertility, pregnancy, and nursing health. They provide ovulation prediction tools, fertility supplements, prenatal vitamins and breastfeeding support products all of which are manufactured U.S. GMP-certified and FDA regulated facilities.