MAKING THE CHOICE TO BREASTFEED YOUR BABY
Breast milk is the normal first food and promotes good health for children. All major medical organizations promote breastfeeding for optimal child health and development and recommend breastfeeding for as long as both mom and child want to continue. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all babies receive only breast milk for the first six months. Also called “exclusive breastfeeding,” this means babies receive no formula, solid foods or water.
The longer breastfeeding occurs, the more health benefits you and your baby receive!
Learning about breastfeeding while you are pregnant can help you to be more successful at breastfeeding when your baby is born. There are many advantages to both you and your baby and you can learn more about them by taking a breastfeeding class. Hospitals designated as Baby-Friendly certified will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start. Continue breastfeeding after returning to work or school to maintain those benefits.
Learn about some of the benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby below. More information and resources are available to help you.
We know the importance of support. Breastfeeding may be natural but may not always be easy. Reach out to your local WIC clinic for breastfeeding support. WIC clinics have staff trained in breastfeeding support.
Consider contacting the National Women’s Health and Breastfeeding Helpline. Call anytime between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 1-800-994-9662 to talk with a health information specialist in English or Spanish
Breastfeeding for Dads
Breastfeeding in the Workplace for Employers
Breastfeeding resources for child care professionals
HERE ARE A FEW BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING TO CONSIDER.
Research shows breastfed babies are healthier and better able to fight disease and sickness. Breast milk provides nutrients, vitamins, growth factors, antibodies, hormones and other benefits that are not available in formula. Breast milk can reduce your baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory tract and ear infections, diarrhea and other stomach problems, childhood obesity, leukemia and childhood cancers, asthma, allergies and eczema.
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of osteoporosis later in life because breastfeeding allows your body to better absorb the calcium you need to keep your bones strong. Breastfeeding moms also have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers, heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
SPEED UP HEALING AFTER YOU GIVE BIRTH
Oxytocin is a chemical that is released when your baby nurses, which helps your uterus get smaller and reduces blood loss after giving birth. Continuing to breastfeed will help your uterus shrink to its normal size in about six weeks, compared with 10 weeks without breastfeeding.
BABY’S FIRST VACCINE
Breast milk protects babies from getting sick. Breastfeeding helps strengthen your baby’s immune system because breast milk contains antibodies from you. This includes antibodies you make after getting a vaccine yourself. Also, breastfed babies have a better antibody response to their vaccines, which means they have less of a risk of feeling the side effects when it comes time to vaccinate.
A VACATION FROM MENSTRUATION
Exclusively breastfeeding your baby may delay ovulation, effectively delaying your period while you continue to exclusively breastfeed. However, you can still get pregnant during this time, so remember to use protection or birth control as appropriate.
SAVE TIME AND MONEY
Use your precious time learning about and bonding with your baby. Breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby by experiencing skin to skin contact and spending valuable time with them. Breast milk is always available (even in emergencies, snow storms, etc.), with no worries about properly mixing formula, ensuring it is at the right temperature, washing bottles or checking for expiration or recalls. Breastfeeding can also save money, up to $800 dollars a year in formula, bottles and feeding supplies.
BETTER FOR THE COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT
Breastfed babies are sick less often, which lowers health care costs and reduces the number of sick days for parents. Breast milk is good for the environment as its production does not harm the environment, requires no packaging and fewer cans and bottles end up in the landfill.