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When mothers decide to breastfeed their babies, they do it for a host of personal reasons. The health benefits, simplicity, affordability, and unmatched bonding experience often top the list.

But giving a child breastmilk doesn't just benefit babies and their families - far from it. In fact, a woman's decision to breastfeed positively impacts every person on the planet.

If you're skeptical after reading that last sentence, you're not thinking big enough. In many ways, breastfeeding is much bigger than the two people directly involved.

From helping a struggling neighbor to lowering wait times and carbon footprints, read on for a fresh perspective on why it helps all of us to support a breastfeeding mother and child.

Breastfeeding Strengthens Communities

When a mother breastfeeds for the first time, she hones a new skill that can be passed on to those around her - not only now, but in the years to come. (Nursing is like riding a bike: we never seem to forget how it's done!)

A woman who has breastfed becomes the person her sister can call in the middle of the night when she can't master a good latch. She becomes the neighbor who drops off freezer meals for a new family with a preemie and a challenging pumping schedule.

She becomes a mentor to those at the local breastfeeding support group, an ear to the pregnant co-worker wondering how to make nursing work after her maternity leave is over, and a cheerleader to her Facebook friend asking for guidance on breastfeeding a toddler.

When a mother breastfeeds, she becomes an empathetic helper, advisor and confidante who recognizes challenges and celebrates successes. We need more of these in every community.

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Breastfeeding Helps the Country

When a mother breastfeeds, she lowers the risk of developing potentially devastating medical conditions in both her and her child. Everything from respiratory illnesses to certain types of cancers are seen far more frequently in formula-fed children.

But how does this translate to helping an entire nation?

Simply put, healthy people reduce medical costs and wait times.

Statistically speaking, breastfed babies get sick less often. As such, they need fewer trips to the doctor's office, hospital and pharmacy. This reduces both public and private healthcare costs, saving us all money in taxes and premiums.

Wait times are lower, too. You can get see your family doctor sooner because little Alex doesn't suffer from chronic ear infections and Sasha hasn't developed asthma.

And since breastfed children are often healthier well into adulthood, this reduction in wait times and costs lasts a lifetime.

Companies also benefit from supporting nursing, as parents of breastfed children take fewer sick days to care for their little ones. Providing adequate parental leave to give mothers time to establish a breastfeeding routine, along with clean and quiet pumping spaces upon their return to work, are two ways employers can encourage breastfeeding.

It's been estimated that if 90% of babies were exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, the United States would save $13 Billion each year in healthcare costs and other related expenses.

So the next time you see a mother and child breastfeeding in public, don't glare at them - thank them for helping you save money and time.

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Breastfeeding Saves the Planet

According to the Surgeon General, 150 million containers of formula are consumed for every 1 million formula-fed babies. That's 150 million containers that end up in landfills or must go through the energy-taxing process of being recycled. And let's not forget the environmental cost of production and distribution.

Formula, like other consumables, takes an environmental toll.

On the other hand, breastmilk is an entirely renewable resource. If consumed directly from the source, it does not need to be sterilized, packaged, or warmed up. It's nature's perfect food, ready and on tap. When a mother breastfeeds, she reduces her child's environmental footprint, which impacts us all.

In a world of global warming and waste-reduction measures, breastfeeding is one major way parents can reduce environmental harm to the planet our children will inherit.

Community. Country. World. Breastfeeding benefits us all.

Sources: The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, Reuters Health