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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Since you and your partner have decided to breastfeed, you probably already know and appreciate many of the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding. But, given the vast number of benefits, there is a pretty good chance you do not yet know them all. Scroll through the list; you just might learn something new.

Benefits for the Baby

Benefits for the Mother

Benefits for the Family

Benefits for the Community

 

Note: Benefits are stated in comparison to formula fed infants

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BABY BENEFITS

General Health Outcomes

  • Fewer breathing problems
  • Lowered risk for juvenile diabetes
  • Fewer ear infections
  • Lowered risk for ulcerative and allergic colitis
  • Fewer deaths from SIDS
  • Less diarrhea
  • Fewer allergies
  • Lower prevalence of celiac disease
  • Less likely to become anemic
  • Lowered risk for Crohn's disease
  • Fewer infantile autism diagnoses
  • Lower rates of infantile botulism
  • Fewer problems with atopic eczema
  • Less likely to be constipated
  • Lowered risk for gastroenteritis
  • Less likely to develop appendicitis
  • Less likely to have sleep apnea
  • Less likely to have sleep arousal problems
  • Fewer dental carries

Growth and Physical Development

  • Better neurological development
  • More optimal growth rate due to the growth hormones contained in breast milk
  • Leaner body composition throughout infancy
  • Healthier, softer skin
  • Better visual development and eye coordination
  • Better oral muscle, jaw and speech development

Feeding

  • Less spitting up and upset stomach
  • Less colic
  • Better digestion due to the better development of digestion enzymes
  • Experience a broader array of flavors during feeding due to the flavors passed into breast milk from the mother's diet
  • Less picky with solid food introduction
  • Better self-regulation of feeding

Immunity

  • Immunizations take better
  • Fewer colds, viral infections
  • Lower susceptibility to bronchitis
  • Fewer respiratory infections
  • Less likely to contract cholera
  • Fewer urinary tract infections
  • Lower risk for pneumonia
  • Fewer bowel infections
  • Lower susceptibility to meningitis

Long term Health Outcomes

  • Lowered risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease
  • Lowered risk for obesity during childhood, adolescence and adulthood
  • Lowered risk for developing multiple sclerosis
  • Lower blood pressure during adolescence
  • Higher IQ later in life
  • Lowered risk for Type I Diabetes
  • Lowered risk for Type II Diabetes
  • Lower cholesterol levels during adulthood
  • Better insulin sensitivity during adolescence and adulthood
  • Lowered risk for breast cancer later in life
  • Lowered risk for childhood lymphomas
  • Lowered risk for Hodgkin's Disease
  • Lowered risk for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fewer tonsillectomies later in life
  • Lowered risk for polio

 

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MOTHER BENEFITS

Disease Risk

  • Lowered risk for breast cancer
  • Lowered risk for cervical cancer
  • Lower prevalence of diabetes
  • Lowered risk for endometriosis cancer
  • Fewer urinary tract infections
  • Lowered risk for breast cancer
  • Lowered risk for osteoporosis

Physical Health

  • Faster uterine contraction
  • Minimization of blood loss after birth
  • Increased metabolic rate, which may facilitate weight loss
  • Faster physical recovery (i.e. reproductive system) after birth
  • Longer spacing between pregnancies

Psychological Health

  • Lowered risk for postpartum depression
  • Increased self-confidence for motherhood
  • Increased circulation of hormones that promote mother-infant bonding
  • Increased circulation of hormones that reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and aggression

 

 

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FAMILY BENEFITS

Convenience

  • Better smelling baby - stool and spit-up do not have foul odors
  • Longer delay of menstrual periods for mother
  • Less preparation time need for feeding (i.e. no heating, bottling required)
  • Lighter load when traveling with the baby
  • Baby can be fed any time, any place
  • Less washing and clean-up after feeding
  • No chance for errors in preparation

Economics

  • Less expensive (~$1600-2000 in savings per year)
  • Fewer purchases of infant feeding-related paraphernalia
  • Fewer health care costs due to healthier baby and mother
  • Less work missed due to infant health problems

 

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COMMUNITY BENEFITS

Economics

  • Increased productivity due to less work missed for infant health problems
  • Fewer resources devoted to marketing, transport and product sales

 

Environmental

  • Less waste produced
  • No dependence on milk production from cows
  • Fewer resources needed for production, cleaning and sterilization of formula and bottles

General Public Health

  • Lowered risk for wide-spread health costs due to malnutrition
  • No food safety or contamination problems
  • No issues with artificial additives, product quality and FDA testing and approval
  • Lower infant mortality rates
  • During times of disaster there is always a source of food for infants

 

 

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