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How Breastfeeding Benefits Both You and Your Baby

While not all mothers choose or are able to breastfeed, it’s an important part of your child’s development and health, especially during the early weeks when your breast milk helps build up your baby’s immunity. In fact, the thick yellow first breast milk a mother produces after pregnancy, called colostrum, is known as ‘liquid gold’ because it’s so rich in nutrients and antibodies that help protect your baby.  

Not only does your breast milk naturally provide your child with all nourishment she needs in the right amounts, but it also changes as she grows. By the third or fifth day after birth, colostrum transforms into what is called mature milk, which is thinner than colostrum and has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby develop properly.

Breast milk also has many other benefits:

* It’s easy to digest. Babies need time to adjust to the proteins in bottled formula, which are made from cow’s milk. Breast milk is less likely to cause diarrhea, constipation or any other stomach issues.

* It’s affordable and convenient. Breast milk is readily available in women who can produce it. Though some mothers have difficulty making enough of it due to breast surgery or, in some cases, the shape and size of their nipples.

* It reduces your risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

* It can help your body get back to normal faster. Nursing speeds up the process of your uterus returning to its normal size. It can also help you lose the weight gained during pregnancy. (Breastfeeding burns about an additional 500 calories a day.)

* It helps keep your baby free of disease. Bottled formula doesn’t provide the same protection against illness as breast milk does. According to womenshealth.gov, formula-fed babies have a higher risk of infections, asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes.


Once you decide whether breastfeeding is the right option for you and your baby, the next step is figuring out how often you should feed and for how long. Many health professionals recommend simply feeding your baby when she appears hungry. During the first few weeks, she will probably need to feed more frequently—about every 2 to 3 hours. One convenience of breastfeeding is that your baby will take as much as she needs from your breast, so you don’t have to keep track of how much or how long you feed.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should breastfeed your baby for a minimum of 12 months, while the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until your child reaches 2 years of age or older. However, many women can’t follow these guidelines due to work or other limiting circumstances. If breastfeeding is no longer an option, bottled formula is a safe alternative, as long as you keep feeding equipment sterile. Some mothers also choose to use a breast pump to express milk into bottles while they are away.

Breast milk supports optimal growth and development for about six months after your child is born, and according to the AAP, water, juice and other foods are usually unnecessary. However, breast milk should still be given to your baby after she starts consuming solid foods and other fluids as a healthy supplement to her diet.

Do you plan to breastfeed your baby? Why or why not? Please share your comments!

8 Comments Post a Comment
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Business_woman2
by KittyJean, Nov 05, 2013
No....there is always a chance of something I'm not safe of passing through to my baby...

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Plant
by Telearrow, Nov 07, 2013
Yes...I have a 10 month old that is breast fed.

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Monkey
by 3erskines, Dec 28, 2013
Yes I am currently breastfeeding/pumping milk for my baby. He is now 9 months old and my goal is to keep giving him breastmilk until he is 1 year old.

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Business_woman1
by TyreeL, Dec 31, 2013
Yes I am currently breastfeeding my one month old and plan to continue!

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Panda
by 5789love, Jan 17, 2014
Breast feeding was an only option for me, it is the best thing you can do for baby and for your self, many benefits for mom and baby! It is what was intended for an human infant, cows milk is intended for calfs which manufactured formula is based off of. Human milk for human brain development.

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Skulleton
by rayvenstarr, Mar 15, 2014
I will be breast feeding my daughter, she will hopefully be born March 20th as I'm being induced due to complications

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Business_woman2
by Butterfly2007, Apr 08, 2014
I am currently breastfeeding my 14 1/2 month twins. Still going strong! Due to my health issues I may not be able to go the full 2 years I wanted to go, but I would be happy with 18 months of nursing. :)

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3253252_tn?1347051658
by Keith Eddleman, M.D.Blank, Apr 08, 2014
18 months with twins is amazing.  Congrats!

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