Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is nature’s health plan. ~Author Unknown

breastfeeding

I often encounter new mothers who do not want to breastfeed their newborns.  When I ask why not, I encounter various answers ranging from, “I don’t like the idea of breastfeeding” and “I don’t think my baby is getting enough milk that way” to “my breasts hurt all the time.”

If you choose to or have to feed your baby with formula, your baby will still grow and thrive, but breast milk and the act of breastfeeding have advantages that formula will never replace. This post contains reasons for breastfeeding.

 

Why should I breastfeed?

Benefits to the baby:

  • Antibodies in human milk passed from mother to baby help protect the child in the first few vulnerable months and some studies have shown that this immunologic protection remains as the child grows and may protect against asthma and allergies later in life
  • Human milk is easier to digest and babies who are breastfed usually suffer fewer problems with constipation or stomach concerns.
  • Breast milk naturally contains nutrients essential for growth that change as the baby ages. Formula cannot replicate this.
  • No BPA risk
  • Breastfeeding immediately after vaccinations or blood tests can help reduce pain and stress  for the baby

 

Benefits to the mother:

  • Bonding time with your baby
  • Helps reduce risk of ovarian and breast cancer in addition to heart attack and stroke (risk reduction seen after 6 months of breastfeeding)
  • Reduced maternal stress during periods of breastfeeding
  • Speeds up uterine contraction back to original size pre-pregnancy
  • Burns an extra 400-600 calories a day and can help new mother lose pregnancy weight
  • Can reduce post childbirth pain and bleeding, especially after a C—Section
  • No need to carry bottles and formula cans or worry about lack of food for baby if you are out of house longer than expected (breasts are always with you J)
  • No financial expenditures
  • Breastfeeding is a reliable form of contraception if you are exclusively breastfeeding, if your menstrual periods have not resumed, and if your baby is less than six months old (if the previous criteria are not met, you may want to make sure you have back up contraception)

 

Benefits to the environment:

  • No unnecessary packaging or waste
  • No need to wash bottles

 

 

 

References and resources

  1. http://www.llli.org/nb/nbbenefits.html
  2. http://www.babycenter.com/breastfeeding-basics
  3. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/default.aspx
  4. The Breastfeeding Answer Book by Nancy Mohrbacher and Julie Stock
  5. http://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/best-breastfeeding-books#.U3OLufldVs4
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