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What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Studies find that breastfed infants have a reduced risk of infections, including ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, meningitis, sudden infant death syndrome, appendicitis and allergies. Also, children and adults breastfed as infants are less likely to develop childhood lymphoma, leukemia and multiple sclerosis, as well as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, childhood obesity, overbites and celiac disease.

Plus, human milk enhances cognitive development, antibody response to routine immunizations and a child's visual development. Breast milk continues to provide immune system benefits to infants well beyond two years.

Breastfeeding also has benefits for the mother, with studies finding that women who breastfeed may have a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and poor bone mineral density.

Dr. Deborah Mulligan, MD
Pediatrician

For the first six months of your baby’s life their nutrition comes from breast milk or formula. Everyone you know will have dozens of opinions about what is best. Without question, we all know that human breast milk is the gold standard for ideal nutrition of human babies. However, many babies have thrived and grown to happy, healthy adults as formula fed infants.

Breast feeding provides advantages for both Mom and her baby. Human breast milk contains all the ideal ingredients for growth of the human body; carries Mother’s antibodies to protect the new baby from various infections; reduces the severity of certain infections like stomach viruses and upper respiratory infections; is hypo-allergenic; contains products that stimulate brain development and reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer later in life.

Breast milk is constantly changing based upon the baby’s needs: Breast milk for the newborn is different in some ways than that for the child that’s a few months old. For Mom, the advantages of breast-feeding include the fact that it is the easiest, cheapest way to feed the baby (no advance preparation or products required); a wonderful way to lose pregnancy weight and still eat without guilt; a recent study suggests that there may be a reduced risk of breast cancer; it is an absolutely wonderful way to feel a special closeness to your baby and can be a form of birth control. In terms of the last advantage, please do not count on breast feeding exclusively as a birth control method.

There are many benefits of breastfeeding to both the infant and the mother. Not only is it an ideal source of nutrition for the growing infant, breastfeeding also protects the infant against ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal diseases, eczema, allergies, asthma, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome. Advantages to the mother include the convenience of breastfeeding, cost savings compared with formula feeding, a unique bonding experience and more rapid recovery from childbirth. Postpartum weight loss may also be easier for the breastfeeding mother, as 400 to 500 calories per day are needed to produce breast milk.

Breast feeding provides the best nutrition for your child. Breast feeding decreases your baby's risk of ear infections, respiratory illnesses, sudden infant death syndrome, obesity and hypertension. Breast feeding also provides mom with benefits including aiding weight loss after delivery, and reducing risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Prof. Deborah Hunt
Critical Care Nursing Specialist

The health benefits of breastfeeding include benefits to the baby and the nursing mother. According to the American of Pediatrics the benefits to the nursing mother include:

  •  Positive feelings and emotional well-being
  •  Weight-loss
  •  Decreased post-partum bleeding
  •  Decreased risk of uterine and breast cancer
  •  More economical than formula feeding

Benefits to the baby include:

  • Provides all the calories and nutrients the baby needs
  • Helps the baby's immune system
  • Decreases risk of allergies
  • May lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • May lower the risk of breast cancer in later life
  • May decrease the incidence of obesity in later life

In summary breast feeding is beneficial to the mother and the baby and it is also more economical and does not require any special preparation. Although the nursing mom does require more calories and needs to drink plenty of water while breast feeding.

Continue Learning about Breastfeeding A Baby

6 Ways That Show How Breastfeeding Benefits Mom's Health
6 Ways That Show How Breastfeeding Benefits Mom's Health
I Heard That Babies May Be Getting Toxic Chemicals from Breast Milk. Is That True?
I Heard That Babies May Be Getting Toxic Chemicals from Breast Milk. Is That True?
Is Breastfeeding Impossible After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Is Breastfeeding Impossible After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
Breastfeeding Provides Ideal Nutrition for Babies
Breastfeeding Provides Ideal Nutrition for Babies

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.