The Surprising Benefits of Breastfeeding

I want to start out by saying that breast feeding is a highly personal choice and I am by no means judging anyone who can’t or decides not to breast feed. As mothers I think we already put enough pressure on ourselves and we certainly don’t need other people making us feel guilty for the decisions that we make as parents. Breast feeding a newborn baby is a major commitment and it is a lot of work. It can be stressful and challenging. I don’t think that enough woman talk about this. Before I had my son, I just assumed that babies knew what to do and it would all be a breeze. I didn’t know that it is very time consuming to fed a newborn and that it is so frustrating not knowing if your baby is getting enough to eat. I remember my when my son was only a few weeks old my husband said, “there is no way that he can be hungry again.” Cluster feedings are exhausting and you feel like you are forever attached to your child. Being the only one able to feed the baby puts a lot of pressure on you and adds to the stress. The good news is that after the first 3 months your baby will become more efficient at sucking and the feedings will take much less time. Also, they will need to eat less often. My 7 1/2 month old son now nurses in about 10 minutes about 4-5 times a day. At this point it’s actually easier and takes less time than preparing and feeding him a bottle.

 

With ALL that being said I was perusing The American Association of Pediatrics website the other day and came across an article on breast feeding. I knew that breast feeding was good for my son but I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the following benefits.

 

In summary, benefits of breast feeding for the baby include:

– 36% reduction of SIDS

– 30% reduction of developing type 1 diabetes if baby is exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months

– 40% reduction of developing type 2 diabetes

– 20% reduction of acute lymphocytic leukemia & 15% reduction of acute mycloid leukemia in infants breastfed longer than 6 months

– 27-42% reduction of allergic diseases including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema

– 15-30% reduction in adolescent and adult obesity

– 52% reduction in the risk of developing celiac disease

– 31% reduction in the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease

– 72% reduction of hospitalization for respiratory tract infections in the first year if baby is breastfed exclusively for the first 4 months

– 64% decrease in the risk of gastrointestinal infections

– 77% reduction in NEC (death of intestinal tissue)

– Higher intelligence scores in breastfed babies

 

As if those aren’t enough benefits, there are also benefits to you, the mother. For breast feeding mothers, there is a reduction in breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.

 

For more information, or to read that article where I got all of these stats, please click here.

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