ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — This week is World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration across the world that reminds us we all have a role in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. 

News 8’s Ally Peters spoke with Barb Lucke, a lactation consultant for Highland Hospital, to discuss the week and its ongoing importance.

What are some of the benefits of breastfeeding for parents and babies?

“Breastfeeding provides newborns with optimal nutrition, including antibodies that really enhance their immune system over the whole duration of the time that they’re breastfeeding and beyond,” Lucke said. “So we see with breastfed babies, that they have much less infections, they have lower rates of obesity, and even lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome.”

However, babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding, mothers do too. 

“We see lower rates of cardiovascular disease in mothers who breastfeed, lower rates of diabetes, and even some lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer,” Lucke said. “We also know that moms will save quite a bit of money if they’re directly breastfeeding and not having to utilize alternative forms of nutrition for their children.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with new guidance that recommends breastfeeding for 2 years. Two years of breastfeeding might seem like a daunting task for a lot of parents, but what does this recommendation really mean? 

“I think the American Academy of Pediatrics is now trying to align with the World Health Organization, which has pretty much always said that children should be breastfed for up to two years,” Lucke said. “Now remember that when a toddler, so a child between one and two, is still breastfeeding, most of their nutrition at that point is really coming from their table food consumption, and just a small little supplemental nutrition is added with that breastfeeding. 

Lucke added it’s important to keep in mind that toddlers are pretty busy and aren’t breastfeeding a ton.

“It might be like two or three times for a very short period of time, maybe before nap and before bed,” Lucke said. “So I don’t want parents to think like the intensity of breastfeeding in the first six months should be compared to what it’s like to continue to breastfeed a one to two-year-old.”

What are some of the obstacles that parents might face in achieving two years?

“I would say the biggest obstacle is navigating work-life balance and breastfeeding, and I think where if we really want to achieve a goal of having families ponder and be successful at breastfeeding for that duration, we’re going to have to have some significant policy changes around extending our universal paid maternity leave,” Lucke said. “A lot of the countries that are successful at getting children to breastfeed longer, they’re giving their families a paid six months I believe.”

What resources are available for parents looking to extend their breastfeeding journey and might need help along the way?

“Your pediatricians often have lactation support, so that’s a great place to start,” Lucke said. “WIC also offers peer support and group-support as well, as food subsidy support for breastfeeding.”

Other options, according to Lucke, include: 

You can learn more about breastfeeding tips and advice, by clicking here.