August is National Breastfeeding Month

Breastfeeding protects babies

mom nursingEarly breast milk is liquid gold

Known as liquid gold, colostrum is the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold.

Breast milk changes as your baby grows

Colostrum changes into what is called mature milk. By the third to fifth day after birth, your breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow.

Breast milk is easier to digest

For most babies — especially premature babies — breast milk is easier to digest than formula. The proteins in formula are made from cow’s milk and it takes time for babies’ stomachs to adjust to digesting them.

Breast milk fights disease

The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk help to protect babies from illness like ear infections, lower respiratory infections, and diarrhea. This protection is unique; formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. Formula-fed babies have a greater risk of asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Mothers benefit from breastfeeding

Life can be easier when you breastfeed

Breastfeeding may take a little more effort than formula feeding at first. But it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. There’s no formula to buy and mix or bottles to sterilize. Night feedings are easier when you can satisfy your baby’s hunger right away!

Breastfeeding is easy on the budget

Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year, depending on how much your baby eats. Breastfed babies are also sick less often, which can lower health care costs.

Breastfeeding provides physical contact that babies crave

Physical contact is important to newborns. It helps them to feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers can benefit from this closeness, as well. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time to bond. The skin-to-skin contact can boost the mother’s oxytocin levels – a hormone that helps milk flow and can calm the mother.

Breastfeeding is good for mom’s health

Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems in women: type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding benefits society

  • Recent research shows that if 90 percent of families breastfed exclusively for 6 months, nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented.
  • The United States would save $13 billion per year because medical care costs are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants. Breastfed babies typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
  • Employers benefit because breastfeeding mothers miss fewer days of work to care for sick babies.
  • Breastfeeding is also better for the environment. There is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.