Breastfeeding is good for mothers and babies


mother breastfeeding baby

August is National Breastfeeding Month! Did you know that breastfeeding is good for the health of both mother and baby? Here are some helpful tips for mothers who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?


Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start to life. It is the ideal source of nutrition to help with their growth and development.

For babies and children, breastmilk boosts their immune system. It lowers their risk of:

  • Ear infections.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Allergies.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • Childhood cancers.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Other illnesses.

Breastfeeding promotes:

  • Good oral development.
  • Healthy eating.
  • Intelligence.
  • Emotional development.

Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start to life. It is the ideal source of nutrition to help with their growth and development.


Moms who breastfeed have less risk of:

  • Some types of cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Depression.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • High blood pressure.

Breastfeeding helps moms recover from labor and delivery faster. It may also help mothers lose weight after they are pregnant.

What kind of help can mothers get if they want to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding is a learning process for both moms and babies. Some babies need more time and support to latch. Some moms have more challenges than others.

At first, breastfeeding moms may have discomfort related to breastfeeding. They may face challenges like returning to work or school. They may also need extra support from family and friends.

Woman holds her newborn baby

Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

You are not alone! WIC is here to help you on your breastfeeding journey. WIC can connect you with a breastfeeding peer counselor. These counselors are experienced breastfeeding moms who have faced or overcome similar challenges to you. They can support you during and after your pregnancy.

WIC also has:

  • Lactation consultants.
  • Regional breastfeeding liaisons.
  • Breast pump loan programs.
  • Breastfeeding classes.
  • Support groups.
  • Other resources.

WIC staff can help you plan your return to work or school. You can learn how to talk to your employer about your pumping rights at work.

You may qualify for WIC if you:

  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding or just had a baby.
  • Had a recent pregnancy loss.
  • Have a child or care for a child under age 5.
  • Have low-to-medium income.
  • Receive Medi-Cal, CalWORKS (TANF) or CalFresh (SNAP) benefits.
  • Live in California.

To apply, call your county WIC office.

  • Merced County: 209-383-4859.
  • Monterey County: 831-796-2888 or text 888-413-2599.
  • Santa Cruz County: 831-722-7121.

Alliance members

If your health care is through Medi-Cal, you can also get services through Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance).

You can sign up for our Healthy Moms and Healthy Babies (HMHB) program. This program helps women get early prenatal and postpartum care. It is offered at no cost to you.

Alliance members are eligible for a free breast pump if either:

  • Mother or baby has medical issues that prevent nursing at the breast.
  • Mother is returning to work or school and wants to keep breastfeeding.

How long should I breastfeed for?

Breastmilk is all your baby needs for the first 6 months.

After 6 months, you can start to offer your baby solid foods in addition to breastmilk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years and beyond.

Where can I find out more about breastfeeding support?

You can get help with breastfeeding at your county’s WIC office. You can also get support from local breastfeeding groups in your area. Go to the websites below to learn more.

Merced County

Monterey County

Santa Cruz County

Upcoming breastfeeding events

Join us at these family-friendly August events. Celebrate breastfeeding and connect to local resources!

Merced County

Breastfeeding Graduation Family Resource Fair

August 26, 2023 in Merced

Monterey County

Breastfeeding Awareness Walk & Health Fair

Santa Cruz County

Breastfeeding Health Fair & Walk
August 11, 2023 in Watsonville

 This article was written together with WIC staff from Merced, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. Thank you, WIC!


Did you find this information helpful?

About the contributor:

Maureen Wolff Stiles

Maureen Wolff Stiles works as Digital Communications Content Specialist for the Communications Department at Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance). She works with a variety of the health plan’s experts to strategically tailor informative, engaging materials for members, providers and the communities the Alliance serves. Maureen has been with the Alliance since 2021. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

Written in collaboration with subject matter expert: Adourin Malco, Slywia Klos, Erika Costanzo