There are many good things about breastfeeding. Even if you are able to breastfeed for only a short time, you and your baby will benefit. Here are the many advantages of breastfeeding for a mother, her baby, and others:
Benefits for Baby
- Breast milk is the most complete nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than formula.
- Breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to be leaner than formula fed babies. This may result in less obesity later in life.
- Breast milk has agents (called antibodies) that help protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Babies who are breastfed for 6 months are less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, or respiratory illnesses.
- Breastfed babies have lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and lower rates of diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, obesity, high cholesterol and asthma later in life.
- Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born prematurely.
Benefits for Moms
- Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose weight after pregnancy. It also decreases any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.
- Breastfeeding delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. (You should still talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control choices.)
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
- Breastfeeding makes your life easier. It saves time and money. There is no formula to buy or mix, and no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk when her baby is hungry.
- Breastfeeding gives a mother some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
- Breastfeeding can help a mother bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and helps them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
- Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness with their babies.
Societal Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding saves on health care costs.
- Breastfed babies need fewer doctor visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
- Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work because their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs are lower and employee productivity is higher.
- Breastfeeding is better for our environment. There is less trash and plastic waste compared to formula use.
For More Information Contact:
S. Lee Woods, MD, PhD