Many women wonder whether they should breast feed their newborn, and if so, for how long? Here is a list of some of the benefits of breastfeeding.
- It’s healthier for the baby. Breast milk provides the ideal nutrients for your baby to grow, with the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat and is more easily digested than infant formula. (It also comes in a convenient carrying case and is always at the right temperature.) The incidences of pneumonia, cold, and viruses are reduced in breastfed babies. Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal infections which can be dangerous, especially in newborns, are also much less common. In addition, it affords long-term protection, reducing the risk of the baby developing chronic conditions, such as Type I diabetes, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease. In some studies it’s been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood.
- Lower SIDS risk. Studies show that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, through serotonin receptors. (www.fitpregnancy.com/baby/baby-care/could-serotonin-hold-the-cure-for-sids)
- Fewer weight problems. Breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce. Feeding your baby 20 ounces of breast milk per day means 400 calories you won’t have. Studies show it is also less likely that the baby will have obesity problems.
- Better post-delivery healing. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding. It also lowers your risk of ovarian and breast cancer, and possibly even osteoporosis. Plus, skin to skin contact during suckling creates a close bond between mother and baby.
- Economic and productivity benefits. Mothers who breastfeed for 6 months can save at least $700 on formula alone. Reduced medical and other costs could save $13 billion annually, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, if 90% of U.S. families followed guidelines to breastfeed exclusively for six months. Better health means fewer insurance claims with less employee time off to care for a sick child, which means higher productivity. Mutual of Omaha found that health care costs for newborns are three times lower for babies whose mothers participate in the company’s employee maternity and lactation program!
The Surgeon General has issued a Call to Action to support breastfeeding. For more information and resources go to https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/breastfeeding/index.html