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DuPage Health Department: Breastfeeding Has Numerous Benefits

Mon August 1, 2016

DUPAGE COUNTY- In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, the DuPage County Health Department is reminding mothers that the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program, offers support, encouragement and education to eligible mothers about the numerous benefits of breastfeeding their babies.

The DuPage County Health Department's WIC program, funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, strives to educate and make new mothers comfortable with breastfeeding. Many new mothers have questions and concerns about breastfeeding. Trained specialists on staff conduct breastfeeding classes and counseling. The class gives first-time mothers a chance to talk to other WIC mothers who have breastfed. The Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program provides pregnant and breastfeeding women with breastfeeding education throughout their pregnancy and after delivery. Breastfeeding Peer Counselors visit moms during their hospital stay to provide encouragement and peer support.

Additionally, through this program, mothers are also taught about breast pumps and offered ideas and tips on continuation of breastfeeding when they return to work. Breast pumps are available at no cost to eligible participants.

The WIC Program is offered across the United States through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The goal of the WIC program is to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.

Health experts around the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding (nothing but breast milk) for six months and continued breastfeeding after a baby begins solid food until the age of two. Human milk is full of antibodies that help protect babies from many diseases, including ear infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea, allergies, leukemia and diabetes. Breastfeeding can even help the baby's mother by reducing her risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1 through 7 this year, and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has noted that a united effort is needed from business, communities, governmental leaders, and health care providers to support exclusive breastfeeding.  The 2016 theme for World Breastfeeding Week is "Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development", which refers to living in a way that does not harm future generations.  Breastfeeding promotes strong nurturing and emotional bonds while providing economic and societal benefits by lowering health care costs.

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