Why should I consider breastfeeding?

FOR BABY:

  • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Human breastmilk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby’s growth and development.

  • Breastfed infants tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This results in lowered risk of childhood and adult obesity.

  • Statistically premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.

  • Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, which may be due in part to increased emotional connection due to skin to skin contact.

  • Breast milk has agents antibodies which help protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Studies show that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for 6 months are more likely to develop a wide range of infectious diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses and have more hospitalizations.
  • Infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S. Studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. More research in these areas is needed (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005).

FOR MOM:

  • Nursing uses up calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size and lessens risk of bleeding after giving birth.

  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.

  • Breastfeeding is less expensive than formula and bottles. It saves time purchasing, measuring, and mixing formula, and warming then washing bottles.

  • A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by feeding as soon as the baby is ready, not having to wait for the bottle to mix and warm.

  • Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby reducing stress.

  • Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted. Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby, an important psychological factor into adulthood.

FOR SOCIETY:

  • Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer pediatrician and emergency room visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.

  • Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often, allowing them to be more productive. Employer medical costs also are lower if health care is given. Moms are less tempted to go to work sick themselves and expose those around them, when they have not been absent frequently for a sick child.

  • Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

More information is available at La Leche League International

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