Why Breastfeeding in the First Hour Is Critical

My Girls

When both of my daughters were born they took to my breasts immediately. I was incredibly amazed by that and still am to this day. How did two tiny newborns instinctively know how to breastfeed straight from the womb?

After reading many breastfeeding stories and talking to countless moms over the years I know I was one of the fortunate ones who had little problems with breastfeeding. I never had a problem nursing my daughters except for the occasional soreness at the beginning. That’s not the case with every mom, however. Only 6.7% of births take place in baby-friendly hospitals in the United States where moms can get critical breastfeeding support if they need it, according to Save the Children, causing many moms to give up if they don’t get necessary breastfeeding support and education.

Save the Children came out with a new report on Sunday, Superfood for Babies, that says 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved by simply being breastfed in the first hour after birth. This sounds simple enough but there are several obstacles that are particularly profound in the developing world that prevent many mothers from successfully breastfeeding their babies like cultural barriers, a lack of frontline health workers, aggressive marketing by breast-milk substitute companies, and legislative issues that are unkind to mothers. This is particularly unfortunate especially as the global community seeks to drastically reduce the child mortality rate. 1,4 million children

We are fortunate here in the United States because the choices we make in how to feed our babies typically does not mean a difference between life or death for our children, but for millions of mothers around the world, especially for those who live in low and middle income countries, a lack of breastfeeding can immediately lead to death. Babies who are breastfed immediately after birth are three times more likely to survive than babies who are not, according to the Superfood for Babies report. Even given a greater chance at survival breastfeeding rates have stagnated at 40% according to the report meaning more babies are dying unnecessary deaths.

What can you do to help?

Save the children is asking people to sign a petition urging Secretary Kerry to fight for newborn nutrition and to help mothers around the world get more support around breastfeeding and lifesaving nutrition for their babies. You can quickly sign the petition at www.savethechildren.org/1000-days.


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