New and expectant mothers are told again and again that breast milk is the perfect food for babies and that if they are able to breastfeed even for a short time, it is the best thing they can do for a baby’s health as he grows.
During the month of August, when nationally and worldwide we celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a few reminders about the benefits of breastfeeding may be beneficial. Doctors encourage women to breastfeed for as long as possible, but whether it is for a couple of months or for one year or more, breastfeeding provides many advantages for both babies and their mothers.
Facts that every woman should consider when deciding whether to breastfeed:
- Your breast milk, rich in antibodies and fatty acids, is exactly what YOUR baby needs each time he feeds because YOUR body produces milk as your baby grows.
- The colostrum your body produces the first 3 or 4 days after birth is loaded with antibodies that begin development of your baby’s immune system.
- Babies who are breastfed have a 60% lower risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life reduces your baby’s risk for ear, nose and sinus infections and may protect against respiratory allergies.
- Babies who are breastfed for several months have a lower risk of developing food allergies and autoimmune diseases and generally show improved digestion and cognitive development.
There are many advantages for moms too:
- Mothers who breastfeed recover more quickly from childbirth as the uterus contracts more quickly to its original size.
- Breastfeeding for several months reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Families realize significant savings over those buying formula.
- Skin to skin contact and the act of breastfeeding helps with mother-child bonding and confidence in parenting.
Despite the many advantages, breastfeeding is not for everyone. For those mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, it’s important to understand that there is no shame in this decision, and they should not feel guilty or that they are harming their babies.
Reasons for not breastfeeding can range from a lack of milk production to a difficult adjustment to a busy work schedule. A woman’s decision regarding breastfeeding is hers alone and she should never feel pressured or shamed. The greatest benefit a baby can receive is a happy and confident mother and a supportive family.
If you have questions about the benefits of breastfeeding and how it may fit into your life as a new mother, contact our team at Stark Women’s Center. We have staff standing by to help you at any stage of breastfeeding to answer questions and guide you through any concerns.