By Molly O’Neill
Every new mother has the choice to decide if they want to breastfeed or formula feed their baby. It is important to understand all the facts before making a final decision especially since each mother and baby is different and requires different needs.
Studies show breastfeeding has major health benefits, for both you and your baby. If you are unable to breastfeed, or choose not to, don’t worry, formula provides your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs as well. However, below are 11 reasons why you may want to choose breastfeeding for you and your baby:
- Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for babies. Breast milk contains everything your baby needs for the first six months of life, with the possible exception of Vitamin D. The breast milk is thick, rich in protein and loaded with beneficial compounds.
- Breast milk contains important antibodies. Breast milk has antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, which is important at the beginning stages of life.
- Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of infections and diseases. Some diseases could include allergies, celiac disease and diabetes.
- Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity.
- Research indicates that breastfeeding has significant positive effects on long-term brain development. These effects are seen in preterm babies who have a higher risk of developmental issues.
- Breastfeeding may help you lose weight, but may make weight loss harder for the first three months after delivery. However, it may help with weight loss after the initial three months.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract. Breastfeeding increases oxytocin production, a hormone that causes contractions in the uterus. It reduces blood loss after delivery and helps the uterus return to its previous smaller size.
- Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop postpartum depression. They have increased amounts of oxytocin in their system, which encourages caregiving, relaxation and bonding between you and your child.
- Breastfeeding reduces your disease risk as the mother. If you breastfeed for more than one year it is linked to a 28% lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding may prevent menstruation and ovulation if done regularly. Some have used this as birth control, but it may not be completely effective. Some mothers consider this change as an extra benefit. While you are enjoying precious time with your newborn, you won’t have to worry about menstruation.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money. You will not have to purchase formula and spend time cleaning and sterilizing bottles. Breast milk is always at the right temperature and ready to drink.
Keep in mind that only you know the right choice for you and your baby, when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. It is common for new mothers to decide one method before birth and change their minds afterwards so don’t stress, and as always if you have any questions about breastfeeding, we can help. Molly is a lactation specialist at Women’s Health Specialist and is able to answer any question that you might have in preparation of your newborn. Give your Women’s Health Specialists doctor a call at (920) 749-4000 for more assistance or to set up an appointment.