Why the Breast is Best

Have you ever wondered what the benefits of breastfeeding are for you and your baby?  You’ve likely heard there are numerous benefits to feeding your baby human breast milk but may have also heard that formulas are enhanced with vitamins and minerals that are ‘perfectly adequate’ for your baby.

Formula may meet your baby’s nutritional needs but it lacks growth factors and immunoglobulins (proteins used by the immune system to recognize bacteria and viruses).

Breastfeeding provides safe and fresh milk and supplies the most optimal nutrition for an infant.  There are additional benefits too.  Let’s explore how breastfeeding may help both baby and mother.

Helping Your Infant

Some benefits your baby receives when you provide breast milk are:

  • Enhanced immune system and may protect against allergies and intolerances.
  • Reduced rates of infectious diseases (e.g. bacterial meningitis, respiratory tract infection, UTI)
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, childhood leukemia, and heart disease
  • Correct development of the jaw and teeth
  • Slightly enhanced performance on cognitive development tests

Helping YOU!

Mothers that breastfeed receive numerous benefits that no store-bought formula could ever provide.  Nursing moms find:

  • An increase in calorie burn and lose more weight post-baby compared with those who give their baby formula.
  • A strong bond between her and her infant and may make the infant feel closer to and more nurtured by mom.
  • Faster shrinking of the uterus
  • Reduced postpartum bleeding
  • Better bone density
  • Lessened risk of hip fracture
  • Decreased risk for postpartum depression.
  • Lower risk for chronic disease, such as Type 2 Diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Boosts a mother’s view on her maternal role
  • Saves TIME (vs. preparing formula) and MONEY from added expenses related to formula.

For more information, please visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, select “PDF version” to read the complete “Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding” abstract, check out http://www.breastfeeding.com/ or contact a Registered Dietitian/Certified Lactation Consultant.

By Louise Goldberg, RD, CSP, LD, CNSC

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