World Breastfeeding Week: What are the health benefits of breastfeeding my baby?

Today’s World Breastfeeding Week post is sponsored by nina and tom family fashion. Sometimes a philosophy is quite simple: nina and tom family fashion believe in bringing to the fore the simple delights of everyday pleasures and accentuating the joys of childhood.

What are the health benefits of breastfeeding my baby?
by La Leche League International Leader Liz, from Queens West

When they say "breast is best," what exactly does that mean? Some would argue that it’s being the best is not really the point, it’s the normal way to feed a baby! There are many people that benefit from breastfeeding including the child, the mother and the community at large.

There are so many benefits to breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding not only benefits the baby immensely, but also the mother.

"Human milk provides the specific nutrients that babies need to grow, both in size and maturity… "
-THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, 7th Revised Edition, page 340

How breastfeeding benefits baby
Exclusively breastfed babies:
· get sick less often and enjoy decreased duration and severity when they do get sick
· are hospitalized less often and perish in infancy less often
· enjoy a decreased risk of diarrheal disease, gastrointestinal illness, and urinary tract infections
· have fewer bouts of respiratory disease, ear infections, and allergies
· have decreased risk of obesity and juvenile diabetes
· have a lower incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
· have fewer learning and behavior difficulties
· have a lower rate of pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, and giardia
· enjoy superior oral development
· experience reduced incidence of childhood lymphoma
· experience enhanced visual development
· enjoy thorough bonding with the mother
· benefit from the living cells in breastmilk that “teach” every body system what to do.
· enjoy direct immune response from the mother depending on what is in the evironment.
· enjoy optimal growth and neurological development.
· have the physical benefit of being skin to skin with mom more often. The magic of skin to skin contact helps to regulate temperature, respiration and digestion among other things.

How breastfeeding benefits mother
There are a myriad of benefits for the breastfeeding mother. Here are just a few of them.

· Being at an advantage neurochemically due to an oxytocin/prolactin induced state that is jokingly referred to as milk fog. Turns out breastfeeding FEELS GOOD!
·efficient uterine contractions after childbirth, which will help shrink the uterus back to its normal size quickly
· burning 500 calories a day which helps a lot of moms lose their baby weight fast. Just for comparison, pregnancy only requires 200 extra calories a day.
· the convenience of having warm delicious sanitary milk at all times with no preparation
· saving the family money. It can cost up to $1400 a year to formula feed a baby.
· natural family planning using the Lactation Amenorrhea Method or LAM.
· building confidence in her body’s amazing ability to lactate and promotes self-esteem as a mother
· reduced incidence of urinary tract infections, chronic hepatitis
· is protective against cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical) The risk of breast cancer goes down 5% for every year of lactation that a woman experiences.
· reduced risk of osteoporosis
· reduced insulin dependence for diabetics during lactation

On top of that, there are even benefits for the community.
· Reduction of environmental waste and pollution due to the manufacture and packaging of artificial baby milks.
· Health care systems are less overburdened with babies who are sick as a direct result of being fed artificially.
· Firmly attached breastfed children become competent confident adults who abuse fewer substances such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
· Less government spending on formula. The US government is the largest buyer of artificial baby milks in the world, and we are all paying for it.

Photos: Kylie nursing her daughter Hannah at 12 weeks, and Ellen nursing her son Dylan.

Note: All photos are copyright to the owner and subjects. Please do not reproduce these images.

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