Deciding to breastfeed is one of the most important decisions a mother-to-be can make to give her newborn the best possible start in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as “the sole source of nutrition for infants for about the first six months; breastfeeding in combination with solid foods through at least twelve months; and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby”.
Our practice enthusiastically supports parents’ plans to breastfeed. We believe that breastfeeding ensures the best possible health, development, and psychological outcomes for all infants.
Why is breastfeeding so good for my baby?
Human milk and infant formula are different. Not only does human milk provide all the protein, sugar, fat, and vitamins your baby needs to be healthy, but it has special benefits that formulas cannot match. It helps protect your baby against certain diseases and infections. Because of the protective substances in human milk, breastfed children are less likely to have the following:
- Ear infections (otitis media)
- Pneumonia, wheezing, and bronchiolitis
Research also suggests that breastfeeding may help to protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Other reasons why human milk is good for your child include the following:
- It is easier for babies to digest.
- It does not need to be prepared.
- It costs nothing to make and is always in supply.
It is even good for the environment since there are no bottles, cans, and boxes to put in the garbage. Breastfeeding also provides physical contact, warmth, and closeness, which help to create a special bond between a mother and her baby.
There are also many health benefits for you because breastfeeding does the following:
- Reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and, in premenopausal women, breast cancer.
- Builds bone strength to protect against bone fractures in older age.
- Delays the return of your menstrual period, which may help extend the time between pregnancies. (Keep in mind that breastfeeding alone will not prevent pregnancy.)
- Helps the uterus return to its regular size more quickly.
The longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits will be to your baby and you, and the longer these benefits will last. The World Health Organization (WHO) and many other experts encourage women to breastfeed for as long as possible, 1 year or even longer, because human milk provides the best nutrition and protection against infections.