Breast Feeding Facts
For the first 6 months,
Advantage of Breast Feeding Your Baby
your baby's digestive system was made to digest breast milk.
Let's explore the various breast feeding facts which demontrate the advantage of breast feeding for both mom and baby.
Mother’s milk provides baby with the perfect ratio of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. The essential fatty acids in breast milk, specifically the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), are crucial to the baby’s cognitive development.
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants until 6 months of life and to continue to breast feed for 12 months even after solid food is introduced. Following this recommendation will provide your infant’s immune system with lifelong benefit, as well as adding nutritional and developmental benefits.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is one of the first lines of defense for the immune system. When this delicate environment is disrupted, the immune system is put under stress. Thus it has been shown that when babies are given solids too early (before 6 months) it can result in food allergies or sensitivities and a lifetime of the immune system under stress can develop to autoimmune diseases.
What are the breast feeding facts which demonstrate it to be the best option for you and your baby?
Advantage of breast feeding for baby:
• According to the medical journal Pediatrics Vol 115 No. 2. Feb 2005, Human milk feeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases.
o Bacterial Meningitis
o Respiratory tract infection
o Necrotizing enterocolitis
o Otitis Media
o Urinary tract infection
Breast milk may also protect the child against:
o Obesity – National Women’s Health Information Center (part of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services) states that babies who are breastfed tend to gain less unnecessary weight, which may help them to be less overweight later in life.)
o Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Advantage of breast feeding to mom:
• Decreased postpartum bleeding
• More rapid uterine involution attributes to an increased concentration of oxytocin
• Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight
• Decreased menstrual blood loss (lactational amenorrhea) – this however is NOT a significant form of birth control.
• Decreased risk of breast cancer, uterine and ovarian cancer
MORE benefits to mom and baby:
• Postneonatal infant mortality rates in the US are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants
• Decreased health care cost – Women who breastfeed are less likely to have to take time off of work to care for sick babies. In a cot study published in the April 1999 issue of Pediatrics, researchers determined that infants who are never breastfed would incur additional medical costs of $331 to $475 per year.
• Nursing mothers need to consume 500 extra calories per day to produce breast milk which means that she should be eating a wide variety of foods. This will introduce the baby to a variety of different tastes through the mother’s milk and therefore can help to deter picky eaters in the future.
o New Zealand 2003 – Academy of Pediatric Physicians sponsored research that demonstrated the longer babies were breastfed the higher they scored on intelligence tests later in childhood.
o An extensive psychological study by the same group showed children who were nursed for more than 8 months, consistently outscored children raised on formula in reading comprehension and mathematical ability.
But what if you are having trouble breastfeeding or you can't breastfeed your baby??
For some women and families, breastfeeding is difficult and may not be an option. I know you still want what is best for your developing baby, therefore listed below are resource links to help you solve breastfeeding problems, review options and compare formulas if breastfeeding is not an option.
La Leche League - More Breast Feeding Facts and Options
More Resources for Moms and Babies in the First 6 months
The Family Journey - Fort Collins
Welcome to Motherhood Group
Poudre Valley Hospital - Post Birth Services
Post Partum Doula Care
Lia Clossan, PCD (DONA)
What is a Doula?