Q&A: Benefits and Importance of Breastfeeding

August 3, 2021

We know that when it comes to our moms and breastfeeding there are always a lot of questions. ACCESS' Maternal and Child Health team is here to provide answers to some of your commonly asked questions.

1. Why does ACCESS encourage breastfeeding? 

ACCESS believes that breast milk is the best for babies because it has all the nutritional components that are natural for babies.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that mothers’ breast milk is the best form of food to give their babies a healthy start.

2. What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

The bond shared by the baby and breastfeeding mother via skin-to-skin contact cannot be denied. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth and breastfeeding with solid foods until at least age 1. Extended breastfeeding is recommended as long as mom and baby wish to continue.

Benefits for women who breastfeed include:

  • Faster weight loss;
  • Less postpartum bleeding;
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Increased feelings of calmness, self-esteem and confidence; and
  • Lower risks of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. ​

Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Severe lower respiratory disease
  • Acute otitis media (ear infections)
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting)

3. Why is breastfeeding recommended before baby formula?

Breast milk boosts the baby's immune system, decreases the incidences of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and is always clean and at the right temperature. Other benefits that babies realize through breastfeeding include:

  • Fewer allergies and instances of childhood cancers;
  • Lower risk of juvenile diabetes;
  • Healthier jaw and tooth development; and
  • Less likelihood of obesity later in life. ​

4. Are there foods that women should eat that will help increase their milk supply?  

ACCESS encourages patients to speak with a Certified Lactation Counselor to learn basic breastfeeding techniques and discuss concerns. Patients also can speak with their provider for information involving medical-related issues with breastfeeding. 

5. Breastfeeding can be difficult for some women. What support does ACCESS offer for women who want to breastfeed, but are struggling?   

ACCESS supports breastfeeding through our integrated care team that links new moms with valuable health equity based programs such as ACCESS' Westside Healthy Start and Family Case Management services. ​

In addition, ACCESS’ Westside Healthy Start Male Involvement Program engages male partners in their health and the health of their children. The program teaches critical parenting and life skills, makes connections to health services and provides job training. Combined, these areas are key to sustaining a healthy family. 

Check out these online resources to learn more about how dads can support their partners through breastfeeding.

6. Many women find it difficult to work outside the home while continuing to breastfeed.  What does ACCESS recommend for women in this situation?  

ACCESS' Westside Healthy Start program and family case management team provide support to new moms who are planning to return to work and/or school by assisting with securing breast pumps, helping create schedules for feeding and pumping, and educating them on how to store milk, etc.   

7. Is exercise OK if you are breastfeeding?  

We promote healthy nutrition and exercise overall, but women should always check with their provider before proceeding with any exercise regimen.   

ACCESS' team of Maternal Child Health professionals is ready to help and can connect you with the right resources.

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As of February 28, 2023