There are numerous advantages of breastfeeding.
Most moms know their pediatrician recommends they breastfeed their child and that it offers some sort of health benefits. However, do moms really know the true advantages of breastfeeding in regards to the health benefits it offers?
I want to put the focus on an important advantage of breastfeeding that may sometimes get overlooked.
Of course, breastfeeding is cheap. Except for a breast pump or nursing pads, it’s practically free and will save mom money she would otherwise have to use to buy formula. It helps mom lose excess weight from pregnancy. It creates a profound and intimate connection between mom and baby.
And most importantly, breastfeeding offers remarkable health benefits to your baby.
Breastfeeding Helps Babies Fight Off Infection
Sure, breast milk provides the perfect nutrition for your child, but it also offers tremendous health benefits that formula companies have not been able to replicate. The fact that breast fed babies suffer from fewer infections than formula fed babies is well documented in the literature.
Breast milk contains special immunologic components (antibodies, immune factors, enzymes and white blood cells) that help your baby fight illnesses. These same substances are not found in formula. The immunologic components from breast milk are so imperative because initially your baby’s immune system is immature, especially during the first few months of life.
Mom passes on her immunity through her breast milk, giving sort of a head start for the baby in helping fight off infection and at times this can even prevent the baby from getting the infection. This is a clear advantage of breastfeeding.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding your baby decreases the chances they will suffer from many different types of infections, specifically ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and even more serious illnesses such as meningitis. There is even data that shows children who have been breastfed for more than 6 months have lower rates of developing childhood acute leukemia
Breastfeeding Decreases Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), lower the chances of a child developing asthma and recently, data has suggested breastfed babies may have a lower risk of developing allergies.
American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends to breastfeed your baby for at least the first year of life. Breastfeeding can be a challenge; sometimes there are issues with latching on, milk production, pain/discomfort and/or coordinating with busy schedules.
I have found a few very informational resources to help explore more specific questions/concerns. There is even a National Breastfeeding Hotline. Too, don’t forget that your pediatrician is always a great resource; they can offer helpful advice and can often connect you with lactation specialists as well.
So when assessing advantages of breastfeeding, be sure to acknowledge the immense health benefits it offers and band together with moms, health care providers, educators and policy makers in the movement to promote breastfeeding.
Bottom-line, breastfeeding has many advantages and most importantly, it is healthy for your baby. Every mom wants their child to have the best health possible, so consider breastfeeding a gift of good health, from mom to baby- and please spread the word.
Some Resources to Help You Learn More about Breastfeeding
- Here is a great resource about breastfeeding, The Breastfeeding Guide. It’s put out by the Surgeon General and is even translated into Spanish and Chinese. They outline many specific advantages of breastfeeding and hit all the major topics. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/breastfeeding-guide/
- National Breastfeeding Helpline: 800-994-9662
- For even more resources about breastfeeding, here is a link to articles from Healthy Children of AAP. These articles are easy, quick and concise reads, but still very informative. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/default.aspx
- Breastfeeding supplies (breast pumps) are tax deductible! They have been recognized as medical expenses, so be sure to include them when filing with the IRS this year. http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/18/breast-feeding-gets-a-nod-from-the-irs-pumps-are-deductible/
Please Share Your Thoughts on Breastfeeding
If you have concerns with breastfeeding or have experiences you want to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.