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Breastfeeding

Why should I breastfeed?

A breastfed baby is a stronger baby.”
  • Babies who breastfeed are less likely to have several illnesses, including ear infections, asthma, and allergies. They have less vomiting, diarrhea, and colic. Studies also show that breastfeeding lowers the risk of SIDS, obesity, diabetes, and childhood cancers in addition to encouraging better brain development.

  • For mothers, breastfeeding lowers the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of endometrial cancer. Breastfeeding strengthens a mother's bones, decreasing her risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause. Breastfeeding also lowers a mother's risk of diabetes and heart disease, promotes bonding, and helps with relaxation, possibly reducing the mother's risk of postpartum depression.

  • Healthier infants have fewer health insurance claims, which decreases employee time off to care for sick children and increases productivity among parents and caregivers.

  • A 2010 study in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the U.S. would save $13 billion from reduced medical and other costs annually if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months.


How long should I breastfeed?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, and that breastfeeding continue for at least a year and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.


Common Challenges

According to the U.S. Surgeon General's “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” issued on January 2011, many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.


Data and Statistics

  • While 75% of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, only 13% are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months.  The rates are particularly low among African-American infants.

  • Data show that 76% of women in Wisconsin report "ever breastfeeding" and that 48.1% report breastfeeding (not necessarily exclusively) at 6 months post-partum.

  • Breastfeeding rates in Milwaukee lag behind state data and national goals.   


How does the Health Department promote breastfeeding?

The City of Milwaukee Health Department has special rooms at our Keenan, Northwest, South and Municipal building locations where clients can breastfeed or pump in privacy and in comfort. In addition, our WIC clinics educate pregnant women and their families about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. When WIC clinics are closed, WIC participants can call the WIC Breastfeeding  Warm Line(414-286-6455) for the support they need.

To find a WIC clinic near you, dial 211.


Where can I get help with breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding support services should be available at the hospital where your baby was born.

You can also call:

  • National Breastfeeding Helpline   1-800-994-9662

  • La Leche League (available 24 hours)   1-800-LALECHE or 1-800-525-3243

  • African American Breastfeeding Network   414-264-3441