“The health effects of breastfeeding are well recognized and apply to mothers and children in developed nations such as the United States as well as to those in developing countries. Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.” The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding
Despite the fact that there is an ongoing dispute with regard to the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public, there is overwhelming consensus that breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the baby but also to the mother. Breastfeeding is strongly recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The opinions of the Surgeon General and prestigious medical organizations may be important and definitely good to know, but making the decision to breastfeed your baby is a personal one. This is still true despite the well-meaning advice that you will undoubtedly receive from family and friends. Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding may help in that decision. Research has shown that babies who have been breastfed have reduced risk of:
- Respiratory infections
- Leukemia (during childhood)
- Obesity (during childhood)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Ear infections
- Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies
Although the list isn’t as long, there are also important benefits to the mother. Breastfeeding is instrumental in helping you lose pregnancy weight a bit faster because it does burn extra calories. During the process, the hormone, oxytocin, is released into the mother’s system which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. There is also evidence that breastfeeding may reduce risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Economic and Environmental Benefits of Breastfeeding
Not having to buy, measure and warm formula, as well as washing and sterilizing bottles can save money and time that can be spent actually enjoying your baby. But, there are other benefits that most people don’t consider. Breastfeeding contributes not only to the improved health of children and mothers, but also economically and environmentally. If your significant other doesn’t agree with this, you might want to consult a divorce attorney like http://www.bchanlaw.com/collaborative-divorce-attorney/
Breast milk is a naturally-renewable resource. It does not require packaging, shipping or disposal, which means that it does not waste scarce resources, create pollution or negatively impact the environment. Because, as the Surgeon General said, breastfeeding protects against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children, healthcare costs are reduced.
It is really hard to find a downside to breastfeeding. There are, nevertheless, individual situations where it may not seem like the right choice. Some women prefer not to breastfeed in public, which can be very restrictive to someone with an otherwise active lifestyle. In the same vein, there is the flexibility that comes from knowing that the father or another caregiver can bottle-feed the baby when mom isn’t immediately available. There’s also the time commitment and structure imposed by being on-call every few hours for six months or longer.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding, including the unique bond that develops between mother and child during this time. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision really must be a personal one.
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