Why Is Breastfeeding So Important?
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial acts a mother can do for her child. Dramatic health benefits have been proven to pass from mother to child through breastmilk From antibodies which protect an infant at birth…to the exclusive nutrients in mother’s milk which have been shown to prevent a number of childhood diseases…the benefits are incalculable. There is no other single action by which a mother can so impact the present and future health of her baby.
Yet, in today’s society, breastfeeding is often thought of as unnecessary. Young mothers are mistakenly led to believe that formula does very well as a replacement for breastmilk. It emphatically does not! Nothing can duplicate the properties of breastmilk, no matter how many vitamins, minerals and supplements are added to what is basically a chemical formulation.
Breastmilk remains the one and only natural, complete and complex nutrition for human infants. It is nature’s formula for ensuring the health and quality of life for infants, as well as on through childhood to adult life. Just as importantly, breastfeeding promotes a very special bond between mother and child that only a mother can provide.
To fully understand the benefits of breastfeeding, these are some of the major, but by no means all of the benefits of breastfeeding your baby.
Health Benefits to Babies Who Breastfeed
- Children receive the most complete and optimal mix of nutrients & antibodies
- The varying composition of breastmilk keeps pace with the infant’s individual growth and changing nutritional needs
- Have fewer incidences of vomiting and diarrhea in the US (20-35 million episodes of diarrhea occur in children under the age of 5, resulting in over 200,000 hospitalizations and 400-500 deaths in the U.S.)
- Protection against gastroenteritis, necrotizing entercolitis
- Reduced risk of chronic constipation, colic, and other stomach upsets
- Reduced risk of childhood diabetes
- Protection against ear infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney infections, septicemia (blood poisoning),
- Protection against allergies, asthma, eczema, and severity of allergic disease
- Reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) Statistics reveal that for every 87 deaths from SIDS, only 3 are breastfed.
- Protection against meningitis, botulism, childhood lymphoma, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative entercolits
- Decreased risk of tooth decay (cavities)
- Nursing promotes facial structure development, enhanced speech, straighter teeth and enhances vision.
- Breastfed infants develop higher IQ’s, and have improved brain and nervous system development; IQ advantage of 10-12 points studied at ages 8, 12, and 18. (Breastfeeding is considered the 4th trimester in brain growth and development…there are specific proteins in human milk that promote brain development))
- Reduced risk of heart disease later in life
- Increased bone density
- Breastfeeding plays an important role in the emotional and spiritual development of babies
- Breastfed babies enjoy a special warm bonding and emotional relationship with their mothers
- Antibody response to vaccines are higher
- Are hospitalized 10 times less than formula fed infants in the first year of life
- The colostrum (first milk) coats the GI tract, preventing harmful bacteria and allergy -triggering protein molecules from crossing into baby’s blood
- Decreased risk for vitamin E and Iron deficiency anemia
- Decreased risk for acute appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, inguinal hernia, pyloric stenosis
- There are factors in human milk that destroy E coli, salmonella, shigella, streptococcus, pneumococcus….and many others
- Less risk of childhood obesity
Health Benefits to Moms Who Breastfeed
- Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers
- Reduced risk of anemia
- Protection against osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life
- Reduced risk of mortality for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with total time of lactation
- Helps the mother’s body return to its pre-pregnancy state faster – promotes weight loss…1/2 of calories needed to manufacture milk is pulled from fat stores… can burn from 500 – 1,500 calories per day.
- Helps delay return of fertility and to space subsequent pregnancies
- Develops a special emotional relationship and bonding with her child
- Breastmilk is free- reducing or eliminating the cost of formula (in the thousands of dollars/per year)
- Breastfed babies are sick less thus reducing healthcare costs to family in Doctor office visits, prescriptions, over the counter medicine purchases, and hospitalizations
- Moms miss less time off from work due to child related illnesses
- Helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding
Benefits to the Environment and Society
- Breastfeeding reduces the cost of healthcare by promoting healthier children and mothers……….If all WIC babies in the U.S. were breastfed, our economical savings would be $33,000,000 per month ……….In 1993, 90,000 babies were hospitalized for RSV at a cost of 450 million dollars. Currently, the U.S. spends over 1 billion dollars a year on Otitis Media (ear infections)
- Reduced insurance premiums for both parents and employers
- Breastfeeding reduces global pollution by decreasing the use of resources and energy required to produce, process, package, distribute, promote and dispose of materials created by the manufacture and use of artificial baby milk
- Reduced tax burden on communities and government to ensure children are properly fed
- Reduced absenteeism in the workplace due to children’s illnesses
Other Benefits from Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding makes you feel good, the hormones produced during nursing have an endorphin effect giving you a relaxed feeling.
- You have a great excuse to sit down and relax…..
- You can nurse while sleeping…nursing moms get more rest than formula feeding moms.
- Breastfeeding saves moms about 7 hours a week off their feet.
- No screaming baby in the middle of the night waiting on the formula to heat up.
- It’s the only time you can ever lose weight without dieting or exercise!
- Breastfeeding is more convenient, when traveling, all you need is to take diapers, the milk is always available, sterile, and the right temperature.
- During times of disaster, you don’t have to worry about finding formula.
- Breastfed babies smell great….spit ups don’t stain, or smell, and poopie diapers are not offensive…(until solids are introduced)
- Breastfed babies know their moms and will never confuse them with a sitter.
- The strong bond developed with nursing is much more intense.
- There is no feeling to describe the child suckling at your breast and letting go to give you a big smile; and knowing that the growth of your baby came from what your body produced! Wow! What a feeling!
- The satisfaction of knowing you are giving your baby the best start in life!
- Breastmilk taste great! Sweet tasting! Variations in taste according to foods moms eats. Have you ever tasted formula? Ugh!
- Breastfeeding requires the use of only one arm….you can do other things while breastfeeding, (except cooking and driving)
- Many, many more benefits, too numerous to list!!!
Psalms 22:9…You made me hope and trust when I was on my mother’s breast.