Because breast milk is made in the human body, it is the ideal food for human infants. It has just the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. There are numerous benefits to breastfeeding, both for the mother and the child. Here are just a few:
BENEFITS FOR MOM:
o Women who breastfeed tend to lose weight more quickly and easily, and it helps the uterus to return to normal size more quickly.
o Breast milk is always ready and always at the right temperature.
o Nighttime feedings are quick and easy.
o Breastfeeding saves money – no bottles or formula to buy.
o Breastfeeding helps mothers feel closer to their babies –they continue that physical connection that started with pregnancy.
o Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer prior to the onset of menopause.
BENEFITS FOR BABY:
o Breast milk is the perfect food for a human baby.
o Breast milk changes to meet a growing baby’s needs. No formula can do that.
o Breast milk is very easy for a baby to digest
o Breastfed babies have less colic, constipation, and diarrhea.
o Breastfed babies’ stools have very little odor.
o A mother passes her immune system protection on to her baby when she breastfeeds, so breastfed babies tend to be healthier. They have fewer earaches and colds, and less asthma and food allergies.
o Breastfeeding contributes to proper jaw and mouth development.
o Some research shows that breastfeeding enhances the brain development of the baby.
Breastfeeding also has benefits for the environment. It decreases the pollution of air, water and land from the production of infant formula and its packaging. It doesn’t use up energy resources for preparation of formula and heating bottles, and it saves families around $2000 a year.
WHY DO SOME WOMEN CHOOSE NOT TO BREASTFEED?
o The thought of feeding a baby from her breast is uncomfortable for some women. This discomfort may be detected by the infant during feeding, and might cause distress for the baby as well.
o Some women intend to return to work soon after their baby is born and feel that breastfeeding would be difficult in their situation.
o Some women prefer the convenience of a bottle because others can be involved in the feeding of the baby.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BOTTLE-FEEDING?
There are several advantages to bottle feeding a baby:
o Other family members can get involved in feeding the baby.
o Mom isn’t always responsible for those feedings in the middle of the night.
o When a baby is bottle-fed, the mother is able to be away for longer periods of time than is usually possible with breastfed babies.
o A mother who chooses to return to work doesn’t need to worry about expressing and storing breast milk.
o Bottle-fed infants often go longer between feedings than breastfed infants.
HOW DOES A WOMAN LEARN TO BREASTFEED?
Most women begin to learn about breastfeeding during pregnancy. Most health care providers make information available to their pregnant patients about breastfeeding and encourage them to breastfeed their newborns. Many hospitals and birthing centers offer classes for pregnant women and have lactation consultants available to help women and their newborns get started with breastfeeding before they go home from the hospital. Other helpful sources of information include local WIC programs and La Leche League International.
WHAT IF I’M UNABLE TO BREASTFEED?
In rare cases, a woman may be unable to breastfeed a baby. Sometimes it may be the result of illness, or insufficient milk production to properly nourish her infant. A woman should never feel inadequate if she is unable to breastfeed. Fortunately, there are several brands of infant formula that provide excellent nutrition. What’s most important is that an infant gets the love and care it needs to thrive and to grow, along with adequate nourishment, whether it comes from the breast or the bottle.