Health Benefits for Baby
Breast milk is more easily digested than ANY formula, resulting in less colic, gas, and spitting up
Breastfeeding reduces or even eliminates food allergies & eczema. Babies who are breastfed for less than six months have seven times the incidence of allergies as those who are breastfed longer than six months.
Breastfeeding is associated with a much lower incidence of wheezing, prolonged colds, diarrhea, and vomiting (Merrett, T.G., "Infant Feeding & Allergy: 12 Month Prospective Study of 500 Babies Born into Allergic Families". American Allergies, 1988.)
Eczema is less common and milder in babies who are breastfed. In one study, (Chandra R.K., "Influence of Maternal Diet During Lactation and the Use of Formula Feed and Development of Atopic Eczema in the High Risk Infants". Br Med J. 1989) it was found that of infants fed soy based formulas, 63% developed eczema. In those fed cows milk based formulas 70% developed eczema."
Formula fed children have a drastic increase in childhood cancers. "The risk of artificially fed children was 1-8 times that of long-term breastfed children, and the risk for short term feeders was 1-9 times that of long term breast feeders." Davis, M.K. Infant Feeding and Childhood Cancer. "Lancet 1988
Breastfed babies get protection from bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, diabetes and asthma.
Formula fed babies suffer higher instances of cardiopulmonary disturbances. (Particularly preterm infants)
Breastfed babies have fewer diaper rashes .
Breastfed babies have 5-10 times fewer stomach infections than formula fed babies
Babies who are breastfed are 10 times less likely to be admitted to the hospital during the first year.
Breast milk contains endorphins, chemicals that suppress pain.
Breast milk contains at least 100 (some sources say up to 400) ingredients not found in formula including at least 4 unique proteins. There are unique and powerful immune building properties in breast milk, and it can enhance brain development
There is growing evidence that breastfeeding can raise your child's I.Q. and there are numerous studies pointing to higher developmental test scores in breastfed children.
Breast fed babies have up to 50% fewer ear infections than bottle fed babies
A recent study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicated that breastfeeding was protective against SIDS. (Hoffman, H.J., "Risk Factors for SIDS: Results of the SIDS Cooperative Epidemiologic Study". Ann NY ACAD Sci, 1988.)
Another source states that "Breastfed babies are one-third less likely to die of SIDS."
Breastfeeding enhances the baby's development of oral muscles and facial bones.
Benefits for Mothers
Breastfeeding mothers have lower rates of certain cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine, and endometrial) as well as a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Also, "Women who were breastfed as infants, even if only for a short time, showed an approximate 25% lower risk of developing premenopausal or postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women who were bottle-fed as an infant." (Freudenheim, J. "Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer." Epidemiology 1994 5:324-331)
Breastfeeding "confirms a woman's power to control her own body, and challenges the male-dominated medical model and business interests that promote bottle feeding." from Breastfeeding-A Feminist Issue by Penny Van Esterik
Breastfeeding encourages uterine contractions after childbirth, returning the uterus to it's pre-pregnancy size much faster. It has been shown that the uteruses of formula feeding mothers sometimes never return to the pre-pregnancy state.
Breastfeeding also: Boosts prolactin (a hormone that enhances feelings of nurturing and contentment) levels, speeds up post-partum weight loss and helps child spacing.
Current research confirms that as long as a woman is fully or nearly fully breastfeeding, and has not resumed menstruation, she has a less than 2% risk of becoming pregnant. Family planners know this method as Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). In areas of world where artificial contraception is unaffordable, unavailable or unacceptable, breastfeeding provides a woman with an effective means of family planning. Source: WABA World Breastfeeding Week Action folder 1995 "Breastfeeding: Empowering Women"
Breastfeeding boosts women's self-reliance and self esteem: by meeting the needs of their infants, they increase their confidence in their ability parent and nurture.
Breastfeeding reduces women's dependence on medical professionals and validates the tried and trusted knowledge that mothers and midwives have about infant care and feeding.Source: WABA World Breastfeeding Week Action folder 1995 "Breastfeeding: Empowering Women"
Breastfeeding is easier and less time consuming. There is no preparation involved, and you don't have to prepare, warm, or transport bottles.
Tips for Making It Work
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for you and your baby. It's important not to get frustrated if you are having problems. What works for one mother and baby may not work for another, so just focus on finding a comfortable routine and positions for you and your baby. Here are some tips for making it work:
- Get an early start. You should start nursing as early as you can after delivery (within an hour or two if it is possible), when your baby is awake and the sucking instinct is strong. At first your breasts contain a kind of milk called colostrum, which is thick and usually yellow or golden in color. Colostrum is gentle to your baby's stomach and helps protect your baby from disease. Your milk supply will increase and the color will change to a bluish-white color during the next few days after your baby's birth.
How to bring baby to breastCorrect Latch
- Nurse on demand. Newborns need to nurse often. Breastfeed at least every 2 hours and when they show signs of hunger, such as being more alert or active, mouthing (putting hands or fists to mouth and making sucking motion with mouth), or rooting (turning head in search of nipple). Crying is a late sign of hunger. Most newborn babies want to breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
- Feed your baby only breast milk. Nursing babies don't need water, sugar water or formula. Breastfeed exclusively for about the first six months. Giving other liquids reduces the baby's intake of vitamins from breast milk.
- Delay artificial nipples (bottle nipples and pacifiers). A newborn needs time to learn how to breastfeed. It is best to wait until the newborn develops a good sucking pattern before giving her or him a pacifier. Artificial nipples require a different sucking action than real ones. Sucking at a bottle can also confuse some babies when they are first learning how to breastfeed. If, after birth, your baby needs to be taken away from you for a length of time and has to be given formula, ask the nurse to use a syringe or cup when feeding him/her to avoid nipple confusion.
- Breastfeed your sick baby during and after illness. Oftentimes sick babies will refuse to eat but will continue to breastfeed. Breast milk will give your baby needed nutrients and prevent dehydration.
- Air dry your nipples. Right after birth, you can air-dry your nipples after each nursing to keep them from cracking. Cracking can lead to infection. If your nipples do crack, coat them with breast milk or a natural moisturizer, such as lanolin, to help them heal. It isn't necessary to use soap on your nipples, and it may remove helpful natural oils that are secreted by the Montgomery glands, which are in the areola. Soap can cause drying and cracking and make the nipple more prone to soreness.
- Watch for infection. Signs of breast infection include fever, irritation, and painful lumps and redness in the breast. You need to see a doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
- Promptly treat engorgement. It is normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier, and a little tender when they begin making greater quantities of milk on the 2nd to 6th day after birth. This normal breast fullness may turn into engorgement. When this happens, you should feed the baby often. Your body will, over time, adjust and produce only the amount of milk your baby needs. To relieve engorgement, you can put warm, wet washcloths on your breasts and take warm baths before breastfeeding. If the engorgement is severe, placing ice packs on the breasts between nursings may help.
- Eat right and get enough rest. You may be thirstier and have a bigger appetite while you are breastfeeding. Drink enough non-caffeinated beverages to keep from being thirsty. Making milk will use about 500 extra calories a day. Women often try to improve their diets while they are pregnant. Continuing with an improved diet after your baby is born will help you stay healthy. But, even if you don't always eat well, the quality of your milk won't change much. Your body adjusts to make sure your baby's milk supply is protected. Get as much rest as you can. This will help prevent breast infections, which are worsened by fatigue.