World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated during the first week of August and seeks to bring awareness to the importance of breastfeeding globally. You may be wondering if breastfeeding is the right option for you, or about the benefits breastfeeding offers you and your baby. To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we’ve compiled a list of advantages to breastfeeding for both mother and child, along with some breastfeeding tips for new mothers.

What are the health benefits of breastfeeding?

It’s well-documented that babies who are breastfed receive numerous health benefits. Some of these include a lower risk of:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS
  • Asthma
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Type 2 diabetes

Breastfeeding also provides ideal nutrition for babies with the correct amount of milk for their age and size. This helps promote a healthy weight by ensuring that your baby isn’t gaining too much weight or eating too much. Breastmilk also contains important antibodies that can help maintain your baby’s health. In fact, healthcare costs for breastfed babies are typically lower, as they are less likely to get sick than babies who are formula fed.

Babies aren’t the only ones who get health benefits from breastfeeding. Mothers get a unique set of benefits as well, including:

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced likelihood of breast and ovarian cancers
  • Delayed menstrual periods, extending time between pregnancies naturally
  • Easier weight loss due to burning calories during breastfeeding
  • Hormone production of prolactin and oxytocin which may calm the mother
  • Less time missed at work due to sick children

What is the difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding?

Breastfeeding and formula feeding both satisfy a baby’s hunger, but there are some key differences:

  • Breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding. Formula feeding and the supplies required can cost over $1500 each year.
  • Formula takes longer for your baby to learn how to digest, as most is made from cow’s milk.
  • Breastfeeding is often more convenient than formula feeding. Bottles and nipples do not need to be sterilized when breastfeeding and there is no need to buy, measure and mix formula.
  • Breastmilk may change to meet your baby’s needs. Research suggests a connection between a baby’s saliva and a mother’s body, and its ability to adjust the breastmilk accordingly.
  • Breastfeeding is better for the environment. There are no plastic bottles that need to be washed or formula cans to toss out.

There are circumstances where formula feeding may be necessary. This can be caused by having a baby who is unable to tolerate any kind of milk or if you have a health problem that prevents you from breastfeeding.

What steps can I take to breastfeed successfully?

Once you’ve committed to breastfeeding, there are several steps that can help improve your success. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives these breastfeeding tips for new mothers:

  • Newborns should be breastfed in the first hour after birth.
  • Pacifiers should not be introduced until breastfeeding has been well established, otherwise latching may become more difficult. Once breastfeeding has become a normal routine, pacifiers can be used.
  • Newborns should be breastfed exclusively. Exclusive breastfeeding should continue for a minimum of six months to provide all necessary benefits to the baby.
  • Relay questions to a local lactation consultant. She will be able to help you with any breastfeeding issues you may be having and alleviate concerns.

Are you preparing to breastfeed with the birth of your child? Women’s Health Associates is here to help work through concerns or questions you may have. Contact us today.

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