Twelve Reasons to Breastfeed

The benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby.

Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG

Breastfeeding offers incredible benefits for both mom and baby. I have a granddaughter. My daughter-in-law nurses her. The look of contentment on both of their faces during feedings is priceless. It is a look of "all is well with the world". Here are some other benefits of breastfeeding.

Human milk is designed for babies. The first milk, colostrum, is what newborns need during the first few days outside of the womb. Colostrum is perfectly formulated for newborns. It is also rich in the mother’s antibodies which protect your baby from illness.

Mother’s milk is the best tolerated food by babies. It is natural and has the right amount of nutrients to ensure healthy development. Breastfed babies have less digestive upsets such as constipation and colic. Human milk contains enzymes which support the growth of healthy intestinal flora.

Breastfeeding encourages bonding. While bonding certainly can occur if bottle feeding is necessary, breastfeeding promotes natural cuddling which soothes the baby. It also offers the chance for mom to sit down since only she can breastfeed.

Breast milk has the optimum amount of essential fatty acids to promote brain development and ensure cardiac health.

Breastfeeding is economical. Formula and bottles are expensive.

Each baby is different. If bottle feeding, you may have to try several different formulas before getting one that agrees with your baby. This adds to discomfort and stress for your baby.

Choosing to nurse your baby is actually easier than bottle feeding. You will be tired caring for your new baby. Having to go to the store, mix formula, prepare and heat bottles, especially at night, all add to stress and exhaustion. If you breastfeed, your baby’s food is always available.

Breastfeeding helps your uterus recover from pregnancy. In the beginning, when you breastfeed, a hormonal reaction causes your uterus to contract and regain tone after giving birth.

Breastfeeding may help to prevent you from getting breast cancer in the future.

Breast milk contains substances that provide protection for your baby from developing allergies in the future. Commercial formulas cannot do that.

Breast milk is tried and true. You know that you are providing your baby with food that has sustained babies since humankind first walked on this earth. Formulas change. Scientists do not know more than nature.

Breast milk is safer for babies. From time to time, we hear about recalls on infant formula. That does not happen with breast milk.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as illness or adoption, I believe strongly that the best start you can give your baby is to provide him or her with the food designed for babies- breast milk.

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