The Benefits of Breastfeeding

The Benefits of Breastfeeding 1You 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.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding 2WIN 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!

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37 comments on “The Benefits of Breastfeeding”

  1. Thanks for posting this info! I have been breastfeeding my daughter for 13 months now..it is natural and just seems "right " for us..but now that she is past one year old, I am starting to get questions from family/friends..I can just TELL others are wondering why I continue to breastfeed!? Oh well, I KNOW that it is the best thing for me and my daughter!

  2. Breastfeeding is a great "super power"~LOL! I love that I can give my baby her nurishment from me! It really is an amazing miracle! :)~
    Thanks for a chance to win!

  3. Oooh! This is great and I'd love to see more women feel able to breastfeed and not feel attacked with "aren't you finished with that YET?" talk. This book is great ammo for that and I'm gonna need it for baby #2 coming in May/June.

  4. Ooh, this sounds interesting. I'm still breastfeeding at 9 months and counting. My family is become slightly concerned and I get lots of "when are you stopping?" !!! So far so good - I'll stop when we're both ready!!! :)

  5. Stopped breastfeeding my son early in the game due to lack of support. Now ready to try it again with number 2!

  6. I still haven't read this book! I'd like to add one caveat to the weight loss through breastfeeding issue--it doesn't always happen. I have been battling to lose the last 15 pounds of my pregnancy weight, and I've fought hard to do so. Breastfeeding doesn't always cause weight loss. While it is the best choice for nourishing your child, don't count on it to be a quick weight loss tool. Do it for the other reasons as there are zillions of them. It's the best choice I've ever made!

  7. This is THE best breastfeeding book out there. I love to give it at baby showers. Count me in...I have tons of pregnant mom friends that I would love to send it to!

  8. I love breastfeeding my daughter! I would love this book for my sister-in-law who is hoping to conceive soon.

  9. this month will be my 1 year mark, i want to continue butmost of my family thinks i should wean. this book would be lovely inspiration

  10. I called La Leche League many times with trouble with my first baby breast feeding. It was a grueling process to start, but beyond rewarding in the end! She eventually breast fed for 13 months & it was one of the most triumphant experiences of my life. As I get ready to have my second baby (a boy this time) on 01/27/08, I hope that I have as wonderful an experience with his as I did with Annabelle.

  11. I would love to read this book. I've been breastfeeding for 6 months and am actually really quite impressed with myself...never though I would make it this ling...

  12. Just wanted to encourage anyone considering breastfeeding to do it! I nursed my son for 14 months and my daughter for 26 months! Neither child ever took a bottle. I'm glad I could do that for them!

  13. I'd love to win this, as I plan to breastfeed when my son arrives in March. I just hope it works out ok, as I've heard some stories about babies not latching on, etc. But I'm determined not to give up!

  14. There are also numerous health benefits for mom:
    Decreased risk of "female" cancers including breast, uterine, and ovarian, decreased risk of osteoporosis

    It is amazing how perfect our bodies are created to sustain another human being...

    I hope many many women read your series on breastfeeding...There is still a knowledge gap even today! I was at Whole Foods washing my "pump equipment" and a worker asked me what I was doing...I told her and she asked me...why breastfeed? What are the advantages/benefits? : ) I'm smiling because I LOVE that she asked me...and I had probably more information for her than she really wanted! Thanks for your post!

  15. I just wanted to add a benefit - it burns calories! If you're lucky this will help you get rid of the baby fat faster than without the breastfeeding.

    Cheers!

    /Paula

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