Benefits for Baby
Human breast milk contains all the nutrients babies need, plus many substances that help promote optimal growth and development and keep them healthy. Antibodies in human breast milk protect baby from illness and other ailments (including ear infections, respiratory infections, and allergies). Breastfeeding also serves as a means of comfort and security for a baby, as well as a bond between mother and child.
Benefits for Mother
Breastfeeding can be a great time saver and is more cost efficient than feeding formula. It is easier and less stressful – breast milk is always in ready supply, always the perfect temperature, and can be fed with no supplies (ensuring for easy travel as well). Stopping to breastfeed the baby forces the new mother to sit and rest – we all need a “time out” to decompress and nursing time can be a special time for just mother and child. It is also argued that breastfeeding helps decrease the effects of postpartum depression.
There are lower rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in mothers who breastfed and breastfeeding can aid in birth control (you should always use another method of contraception when breastfeeding such as a condom, diaphragm, or other barrier method). Breastfeeding mothers tend to lose more weight than formula-feeding mothers who consume fewer calories and one study found that mothers who breastfed had slimmer hips and weighed less than women whose babies received only formula.
Benefits for the Environment
Breastfeeding is more environmentally friendly than formula feeding. In addition to the health benefits offered, human milk is delivered without excess packaging or processing.
Most of this information was learned through La Leche League International.
The La Leche League International mission is: To help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
For More Information on Breastfeeding
Breast milk is very beneficial to all babies, but especially those who are sick or premature (aside from the many health benefits, human milk is also easier to digest than other alternatives). Many mothers are unable to nurse their babies for whatever reasons – it is possible to help by donating your breast milk to a milk bank. For more information contact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America or United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking.