Breast-feeding offers many advantages to both babies and mothers. You should know the benefits of breast-feeding before you decide about how to feed your baby.
Human milk is the perfect food to help your baby's body and brain grow and develop. No formula can be made exactly the same as human milk. There are thousands of ingredients in human milk, and not all of them have been identified.
Babies can digest breast milk easily. A diet of breast milk produces loose bowel movements that a baby can easily pass. Constipation is rare in breast-fed infants.
The only food your baby needs for about 6 months is breast milk. After you start feeding your baby solid foods, it helps if you continue breast-feeding until your child is a year old or even older.
Breast-feeding helps protect your baby from illnesses including diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, and serious illnesses. Breast-feeding improves your baby's chances of staying healthy. Breast-fed babies also have a much lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
You and your baby give comfort to each other. Your baby regularly needs your breast milk and physical closeness, and your full breasts regularly need to be drained. Breast-feeding helps deepen the bond between you and your baby.
Your baby may be less likely to have skin problems and asthma than babies who are fed formula.
Breast-feeding, especially for longer than 6 months, reduces the chance that your child will be overweight later in life.
Nursing causes your body to release a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps your uterus return to its normal size after delivery.
Breast-feeding uses up calories and usually helps mothers lose some of the extra weight they gained during pregnancy.
No matter where you are, the perfect food is ready for your baby. It is at the right temperature and in the correct amount. You can take your baby with you anywhere, knowing that you can feed him whenever he is hungry.
Breast-feeding helps prevent pregnancy during the first 6 months after you give birth if:
Use other methods of birth control if:
There is a small risk that you will get pregnant while you are breast-feeding. If you are worried about it, use another form of birth control as well.
Women who breast-feed are less likely to get breast cancer or ovarian cancer and may be less likely to suffer broken hips in older life. Breast-feeding lowers a mother's risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
You can try breast-feeding and then switch to bottles of formula if it doesn’t work out. But after you start bottle-feeding, you usually can’t switch to breast-feeding weeks later.
Breast-feeding can save as much as $1500 in a year because you don’t need to buy formula and bottles. Even if you need to rent or buy a breast pump when you go back to school or work, it may be tax deductible.
Breast milk is a natural food. There are no transportation and fuel costs. No packages end up in a landfill.
Breast-feeding has many benefits for you and your baby. Measure success by how much you and your baby enjoy nursing, not just by the amount of milk you produce or the length of time you breast-feed.