Breastfeeding has a multitude of benefits for mother, baby, family and even community. The benefits include physical, psychological, financial and even environmental.
Breast milk is the optimal food for babies, loaded with proteins and antibodies. Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses, including diarrhea, ear and respiratory infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma. There is a reduction in the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when a baby is breastfed.
There are many benefits for the mother who breastfeeds. Breastfeeding promotes faster weight loss for mothers after birth. Breastfeeding mothers have fewer urinary tract infections and less chance of anemia. There is less risk of postpartum depression and more positive mood with breastfeeding.
Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
Emotional health is improved by breastfeeding. Natural soothing hormones oxytocin and prolactin are produced with breastfeeding. These hormones promote stress reduction and positive feelings. Mothers who breastfeed have increased confidence, self-esteem and calmness.
There is an increase in physical and emotional bonding between mother and baby. Affectionate bonding during the first year of life may reduce social and behavioral problems in both children and adults.
Breastfeeding saves money. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), families who breastfeeding for at least one year can save $1,200 to $1,500 on infant formula costs.
There are no or very little supply costs associated with breastfeeding. Better health of infants mean fewer insurance claims and fewer employees needing time off resulting in higher productivity.
Our environment also receives the benefits from breastfeeding. Formula is a manufactured product which produces pollution during manufacturing and transportation of the product. Breastfeeding is natural occurring product and produces little to no waste in our landfills.
To be successful mothers need to get off to a good start when breastfeeding. Mothers should breastfeed as early after birth as possible and as often as possible. Bottles and pacifiers should be avoided until breastfeeding is well established which is usually 3 to 4 weeks.
Breastfeeding should be comfortable, so if you are having pain or difficulty consult with a lactation consultant. Mother and baby need time together to learn how to breastfeed. Chores such as cooking and cleaning should be minimized and or done by someone else to provide that time to mother and baby.
Breastfeeding can support the wellness of body, mind and spirit for the whole family. Encourage mothers to breastfeed.
If you have questions or would like more information on breastfeeding or breastfeeding support, you can contact Clinton County WIC at 937-382-2862.
Pam Daniel is Health Educator for the Clinton County Health District.