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WIC program promotes breastfeeding benefits

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Public Health WIC Program Coordinator Analina Portela says there are many benefits to breastfeeding, telling KUAM News, "Talking to mothers in the WIC program, most of our moms really like breastfeeding because of the bonding and if they have several children, they've also noticed that their children are more healthier and if they get sick, the duration is very short."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months although any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding are that it protects babies from a long list of illnesses and developing allergies, breastfeeding is said to boost a child's intelligence, protect infant's from obesity, it may lower a baby's risk of SIDS, as for the mother it reduces stress and risk of postpartum depression, and also reduces the risk of some types of cancer.

In terms of diet, variety and balance is key.  A balanced diet which means eating a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat at meals will keep nursing mothers full longer and supply the nutrients your body and baby needs. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and cereals, and fresh fruits and vegetables not only provide more nutrition than processed starches and sugars, they provide longer-lasting energy.  Variety across all food groups is important so you can get all the vitamins you and your baby need over time. So, mix it up.

"When you're breastfeeding," continued Portela, "your cells and enzymes in the breast milk will help the baby develop cognitive and even eye and brain contact. so when you're feeding through the breast milk, those things in the breast milk help the baby develop those brain cells."

While there's no true hard fast rule when to stop breastfeeding most doctors recommend at one year of age.  For more information on breastfeeding call Public Health's WIC Breastfeeding Program at 475-0295/6.

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