Friday, January 16, 2009

Advantages of Breastfeeding

Pediatricians, midwives, nurses and even formula manufacturers all agree that breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby. With breast milk containing the perfect amount of antibodies, water, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, served at the perfect temperature and in the perfect container, formula will always come in second place as best for your baby. Below are some of the advantages of breastfeeding.

  • Breast milk is personalized for your baby – Your breast milk contains the perfect amount of everything your baby needs. With your breast milk continually changing to meet your baby’s needs, it’s always just right.

  • Protection from allergy – Your baby will be less likely to get allergies, which the strong proteins in cow’s milk can cause.

  • Can protect against respiratory problems like asthma.

  • Less chance of obesity – Since breast fed babies are able to follow the demands of their appetite, breastfeeding may help reduce the chance of becoming over-weight.

  • Nursing for at least one year has been shown to reduce stomach infections.

  • Easier to digest – Your breast milk is designed for your baby’s new sensitive digestive system. The amount of proteins and fats in your breast milk is individually tailored to your baby’s needs.

  • No constipation – Since breast milk has a natural laxative effect, infants who breastfeed will rarely become constipated.

  • Convenience – With breastfeeding there is no worry about keeping bottles and nipples clean, carrying bottled milk and keeping it at the proper temperature. Breast milk is always ready to use and at the perfect temperature.

  • Money saving – Breast milk is free, where bottle-feeding can get expensive for the formula, bottles and nipples.

  • Good for the mother – Breastfeeding creates a surge of the hormones in your body, which helps your uterus to contract and shrink to its pre-pregnant size. Breastfeeding can also delay the return of your periods providing you from a reprieve from that “time of the month”. Take note that this is not always the case; so don’t count on it.

  • Strong emotional mother-baby benefits – The skin to skin contact and cuddling during breastfeeding creates a wonderful bond between mother and baby. There is nothing better than the eye-to-eye contact, skin-to-skin contact, cuddling and talking time that takes place during breastfeeding.

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics - "Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns."
    "Epidemiologic research shows that human milk and breastfeeding of infants provide advantages with regard to general health, growth, and development, while significantly decreasing risk for a large number of acute and chronic diseases. Research in the United States, Canada, Europe, and other developed countries, among predominantly middle-class populations, provides strong evidence that human milk feeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of diarrhea, lower respiratory infection, otitis media, bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, botulism, urinary tract infection, and necrotizing enterocolitis. There are a number of studies that show a possible protective effect of human milk feeding against sudden infant death syndrome, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, lymphoma, allergic diseases and other chronic digestive diseases. Breastfeeding has also been related to possible enhancement of cognitive development."
    "There are also a number of studies that indicate possible health benefits for mothers. It has long been acknowledged that breastfeeding increases levels of oxytocin, resulting in less postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution. Lactational amenorrhea causes less menstrual blood loss over the months after delivery. Recent research demonstrates that lactating women have an earlier return to prepregnant weight, delayed resumption of ovulation with increased child spacing, improved bone remineralization postpartum with reduction in hip fractures in the postmenopausal period and reduced risk of ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer." Read the complete American Academy of Pediatrics statement here or visit the AAP site for more information.

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