The benefits of breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding

If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with the desire to do what’s best for your child from the very beginning. You want to purchase the safest crib, have the best pediatrician and provide everything they need. However, one of the best things you can give your child is something that can’t be bought. Breast milk is natural, it’s free and studies have shown that breastfeeding is the best way to protect your child against infection and illness. Here are the short and long-term health benefits of breastfeeding.

Short term benefits

Breast milk is the ideal nutrition for infants for numerous reasons, including the fact that a mother’s breast milk is tailored to her baby, and that all breast milk contains a mix of vitamins, protein and fat that are vital for a baby’s development. Breast milk is packed with antibodies that are crucial in the first months of life, helping babies fight off viruses, infections, bacteria and disease when they’re at their most vulnerable state.

In addition, breast milk provides:

  • Nutritionally balanced meals
  • Increased chance of survival during the first year of life
  • Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • Physical and emotional benefits due to increased skin-to-skin contact
  • Physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding directly from a mother's breast due to skin-to-skin contact
  • Lower risk of contracting stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections and meningitis.
  • Oxytocin, which promotes nurturing and relaxation.

Long-term benefits

Breastfed children reap the benefits of being breastfed throughout their lives. While breastfeeding helps to prevent illness within the first year of life, it also reduces the risk of illness later in life and boosts overall IQ.

Breastfeeding helps protect against:

  •  Certain childhood cancers
  •  Obesity
  •  Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  •  High cholesterol
  •  Inflammatory bowel disease
  •  Allergies
  •  Rheumatoid arthritis
  •  Cardiovascular disease

When not to breastfeed

There are a few instances in which is best not to breastfeed your child. As always, consult with your physician before making your decision.

Do not breastfeed if:

  • You are HIV positive
  • You have to take certain prescription medications
  • Your baby has a rare condition called galactosemia and cannot consume the natural sugar in breast milk.
  • You have active, untreated tuberculosis.
  • You’re undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Posted: 4/22/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Breast, Breastfeeding, milk

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