You probably hear the “breast is best” mantra everywhere you turn. The reason why the message is so pervasive is that breast milk can’t be beat in terms of benefits for baby (and mom). Formula companies try to come up with a powdery composition that mimics breastmilk, but they simply can’t create the same unique properties that our bodies engineer automatically post-labor and delivery.
Of course, we all are well-aware that breastmilk provides the optimal nutrients for baby’s physical growth and protects baby from illness. But did you know…
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding. In fact, they say that, “Pediatricians and other health care professionals should recommend human milk for all infants in whom breastfeeding is not specifically contraindicated.” They go on to say that, “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.”
- The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding. Their position is that, “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.”
- Breastfeeding has also been “associated with lower rates of juvenile diabetes, adult onset diabetes, celiac disease, childhood cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, dental caries, severe liver disease, and acute appendicitis.” (quote taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Revised Seventh Edition)
- Some studies also indicate that breastfed babies have higher IQ’s, have less chance of being asthmatic, are less likely to die of SIDS, and are less likely to become obese.
- Finally, breastfeeding may help moms to lose weight faster and prevent subsequent pregnancies from happening too quickly.
Besides all of those textbook-y benefits, I’ll add five other ones from my personal experience…
1. Breastfeeding saved us money. La Leche League reports that the least expensive formula costs $134 a month and the most expensive formula costs $491 a month. Multiply that by 12…at the least, you’ll spend $1,608 on formula. If you go with the pricier brands, you could end up spending over $6,000! If I compare that to the amount I spent (um…$0), there really is no comparison.
2. Breastfeeding forced me to slow down, relax, and enjoy my baby.
3. Breastfeeding helped me “bond” with my baby.
4. Breastfeeding was more convenient (no bottles, no stirring, no heating).
5. Breastfeeding kept me period-free for almost two years! (Pregnancy, plus 12 months after baby’s birth…)
With all of those benefits (for both you and baby), you might as well give it a shot. If you have questions or need some support/encouragement, you can join a La Leche group near you.
WIN IT! One winner will receive The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Seventh Revised Edition, published by the La Leche League International. To enter, simply leave a comment and your e-mail address prior to Friday, January 4, at midnight. Winner will be contacted and announced on Saturday, January 5. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
* UPDATED * The winner is #30 dinahk2. Congratulations!