Lactation Specialist of Houston Newsletter
Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed
By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD
Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, there is no doubt about that. Scientifically the evidence keeps mounting that breastmilk is superior to all other forms of infant feeding. Here are the reasons that this is true; some you may know, others may surprise you!
1. Increases Baby's IQ.
Breastfeeding has been shown to increase your baby's intelligence quotient (IQ). The average increase is about 7 points. While it might not be the difference for acceptance to Harvard, we all need every point we can get!
2. Helps mom lose that baby fat.
There are certain fat stores that develop in your body during pregnancy that are destined to be for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding helps tap into those stores and reduce the fat deposits laid down in pregnancy.
3. Breastfed babies are less likely to die of SIDS.
About 7,000 US babies die every year from SIDS. While we don't know what causes SIDS, we do know what the risk factors are, which includes using formula to feed your baby. Breastmilk is one of the few factors that you can control.
4. Reduced allergies for breastfed babies.
Breastfeeding your baby causes baby to have fewer allergies. There are lots of reasons why this happens, but remember - Mother's milk is specific for each and every child. It changes throughout the day and throughout the span that you nurse.
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that breastfeeding is the optimal source of nutrition through the first year of life. We recommend exclusively breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby's life, and then gradually adding solid foods while continuing breastfeeding until at least the baby's first birthday. Thereafter, breastfeeding can be continued for as long as both mother and baby desire it. MORE>>
6. Breastfeeding burns calories!
Breastfeeding requires about 500 calories a day to simply produce the milk. You can use those extra 500 calories to add more food to your diet or to help you lose weight after the birth.
7. Formula increases the risk of diabetes (type I).
Infants who are exposed to formula, particularly early on, have a greater likelihood to develop Type I diabetes. Infants who were expressly breastfed for at least 5 months with no formula had lower rates of Type I diabetes. The longer they were breastfed, the lower the risk.
8. Post birth benefits are also many.
By breastfeeding, your body releases a hormone that helps your uterus contract, oxytocin. This can reduce your risk of postpartum hemorrhage or the need for other medications. Nursing also helps your uterus heal after birth and get back to its pre-pregnancy size.
9. Cancers decrease with breastfeeding too.
Your risk of developing breast cancer and other cancers is increased if you do not breastfeed. Breastfeeding can help lower the incidence of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, etc.
10. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of obesity.
Not only will breastfeeding make your child more lean and healthy, it will help reduce days missed at work for illnesses, etc. Because nursing lowers the risk that your child will suffer from upper respiratory infections, ear infections, etc.