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Saturday, December 02, 2006

What's So Great About Breastfeeding?

Glad you asked. Whether you're expecting a baby or you're already nursing a little one, it's good to know the benefits of breastfeeding. Some of us are still making the decision, some of us need encouragement to keep on going, and still others of us just like to be reminded from time to time how breastfeeding is nature's way of helping baby develop strong health. Here are a few facts on breastfeeding that I uncovered with the help of La Leche League.

- Breastfeeding only (without additional formula) for the first six months of life lowers the risk of obesity.

- It lowers the risk of ear infections, viruses, diarrhea, chest infections, asthma, and other illnesses, even after weening.

- There are long-term cognitive benefits. Breastfeeding for eight months or more results in higher verbal and performance IQ scores in seven- and eight-year-old children.

- It decreases the risk of childhood diabetes.

- It decreases the risk of SIDS, makes baby's potty more regular (and less stinky, I might add), and it puts off that first virus longer. When the first virus does occur, it's shorter.

I didn't forget the benefits to mom either! For the nursing mother, hormones are released that calm her. What a great help in the beginning stages of motherhood! The food is free, compared to the high cost of formula. It's already heated, it's totally portable, and there are no late-night trips to the convenience store because - oops! - there's no more formula in the house and baby's hungry NOW.

Let's not forget to mention the faster weight loss for mom. Breastfeeding burns at least an extra 500 calories a day. That means for the duration you choose to breastfeed your baby, whenever you take seconds at the dinner table, you're allowed to say, "What? I'm breastfeeding."

If you're breastfeeding, what is you favorite reason? Share here and help others to make the decision!


emilylehr said...

My baby and I are in our 4th month of exclusive breastfeeding and we love it! True all of the things you've said, but I would like to point out that it is not always easy right away. I was made to feel bad because it hurt, my milk supply was crazy, etc. But, it of course got better. Mamas should know that if it is not fabulous right away it is worth sticking with it.

The Anonymous Mama said...

You're very right! It's not always an easy start. I had a rough time in the hospital with my baby not latching on, and most of the nurses made me feel uncomfortable. I even overheard one in the hallway talking to another, saying, "Do you know anything about breastfeeding? I don't have a clue what to do with her." A wonderful doctor assured me when we got home, I'd have an easier time. It did totally improve then! Thanks for the comments!

Brood Mare said...

Yes, it hurt me like heck with the first baby - for about a month. Every time baby latched on - ouch! After that, it never hurt again, with any of my kids. I have had some friends give it up right before it was about to get so much easier.

I recently learned something new about the way breastfeeding protects baby from illness. Apparently, the mom's body is capable of protecting baby from "bugs" she hasn't even been around. For example, say baby goes to the store with Daddy, they use a shopping cart, baby decides to do a little teething on the cart (of course Daddy doesn't mind), baby gets exposed to a nasty germ. Well, baby comes home to Momma, nurses, and Momma's boobs say, "hey, what the heck were those bad germs, let's get 'em. So, the mom's body immediately begins to synthesize antibodies at the breast level! How cool is that?! This explains why none of my kids ever had their first cold until after they were weaned.