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Navigating Our Health: Top 5 Reasons to Breast Feed Your Baby

Breastfeeding can be the first time in a woman’s life when she feels truly responsible for another person’s well-being. It is often in the hospital when a woman first tries to breastfeed, and while different women have different experiences, it is important to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible. Here are the top five reasons why.

  1. Breastfeeding helps protect your baby from illness: Breast milk contains antibodies that can help protect infants from certain illnesses.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the risk of hospitalization for a lower respiratory tract infection during the first year of life is dramatically reduced by 72 percent in infants who breastfed exclusively for more than four months.  Breastfeeding is also credited to reduce the risk of ear infections, GI infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, allergies, Celiac disease, and obesity.
  2. Breastfeeding is healthy for the mother: Mother’s choosing to breast feed will see the benefits right away. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of postpartum blood loss and helps your uterus return to normal size after giving birth.  There are also studies that show a decrease in postpartum depression in mothers whom exclusively breastfed for six months.  Some breastfeeding moms also contribute breastfeeding to helping them return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner.  Breastfeeding also has long term benefits, such as a lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, certain types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  3. It is free and convenient! No packing coolers, washing bottles, mixing formula, or waiting for the bottle to warm up in a bowl of water. When you are with your baby, your milk is always ready and the perfect temperature... and it’s free!
  4. It helps with maternal-infant bonding: When you breastfeed, your body produces oxytocin, a hormone that promotes maternal behaviors, such as love and attachment. Babies also benefit being skin to skin with mom during feedings and having direct eye contact and interactions.  Breastfeeding often leads to maternal fulfillment and provides a unique emotional experience for mom and baby.
  5. Breast milk is made with the perfect ingredients: The breast milk you produce is formulated especially for your baby.  It has the perfect amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals needed for your baby’s growth and development.  The milk will change over time to accommodate the changing needs of your growing baby. Breast milk is also much easier for your baby to digest.

Beebe’s Certified Lactation Consultants are available to help mothers through any rough times. For more information or breastfeeding resources, email me at [email protected].

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Carrie Snyder

Carrie Snyder, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, is the Women's Health Nurse Navigator. Carrie serves as a liaison between Beebe and the community to help community members navigate Beebe’s services.