Did you know that World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7? It is a time when women from all over the world celebrate the special bond between mothers and babies. I would like to share a few benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies both. (From the National Institutes of Health, WebMD and Le Leche League)
Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding burns extra calories to help you lose pregnancy weight faster, releases the hormone oxytocin to help your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as osteoporosis.
Since you don’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples or warm bottles, breastfeeding saves you time and money so that you have the time to relax quietly and bond with your newborn.
Benefits for Baby
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat – everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores later in childhood in some studies. What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching and eye contact all help your baby feel secure and bond with you.
Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome. It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.
Benefits for Society and Employers
Breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or create pollution. Breast milk is a naturally renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping or disposal. There is less use of natural resources (glass, plastic, metal, paper) and also less waste for landfills. Employers will also experience reduced absenteeism in the workplace due to children’s illnesses. Breastfeeding reduces the number of sick days that families must use to care for their sick children.
At TCHC, we have prenatal classes along with doctor appointments that include breastfeeding education. We can meet with you one-to-one while you are in the hospital after the baby is born, and we can also do a home visit after you go home to make sure everything is going well.
Breastfeeding your baby is a very personal choice, and it is not for everyone. If you want more information about breastfeeding or to schedule a prenatal class, please call Prenatal Education at 218-631-7538.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
About the Author: Sarah Riedel is a registered nurse certified lactation counselor (CLC) at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena. A CLC has specialized training in the topic of breastfeeding to better help new moms and babies start out in the right place with breastfeeding and troubleshoot when there are problems.