"Why should I breastfeed?" you may wonder. "Isn't formula just as good?"
New moms face innumerable choices. Nursing or formula feeding is one of a mother’s most important decisions, both for their own health and their baby's.
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics both agree that "breast is best" for infant nutrition. They recommend nursing exclusively for at least six months and as long as mutually enjoyable by mom and baby.
Multiple research studies indicate many short-term benefits for baby, including fewer illnesses, optimal nutrition, improved bonding to mom and less colic. Formula lacks the antibodies imparted by mother's milk and breast milk's ability to meet a baby's health needs in real time. Scientists have discovered that breast milk adjusts continually to provide optimal nutrition and disease-fighting antibodies, which is why nursing babies often resist a communicable illness that strikes the rest of the family--even one that affects the mother.
For moms, short-term benefits of breast feeding can include more rapid loss of "baby" weight, less postpartum bleeding, lower rates of postpartum depression, faster uterine contraction, improved bonding to baby, free baby food, no (or reduced) need to sterilize baby bottles and a constant supply of perfect temperature baby nutrition. Moms who exclusively breastfeed receive 98 percent effective contraception for up to six months postpartum.
Baby's long-term benefits of breast milk include less risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes and, according to the World Health Organization, higher scores on intelligence tests.
For mothers, long-term benefits of nursing include lower risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Everyone benefits from nursing's low environmental impact. Moms who breastfeed save water and energy, as they won't need manufactured formula or wash as many bottles.
Most women can breastfeed. Before assuming you cannot, discuss your concerns with your OB-GYN. Lactation consultants can help new moms get the hang of nursing. Most hospitals and birthing centers provide lactation consulting for free. Doulas with postpartum training can also aid moms in this area.
Women returning to work can continue providing their babies with milk by pumping breast milk for caregivers to bottle feed their babies. By law, most employers must provide a secure and reasonably comfortable place for mothers to express breast milk and a safe place to store it. Talk with your human resources department ahead of time about what your company provides.