5 reasons why mothers choose to breastfeed
By Branigan Nilssen, Registered Nurse, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
Being a mom and having to make a lot of decisions go hand in hand. As a mother of four, I know firsthand that some decisions are easy while others can cause sleepless nights. Whether to breastfeed or bottle feed is a dilemma for many moms-to-be. Ultimately, you have to decide what’s best for your baby and for you. Here are five benefits to breastfeeding that may help with your decision to nurse or not.
1. Health benefits for baby
Because breastmilk is filled with antibodies that protect against infection, breastmilk heightens baby’s immune system for as long as he/she is breastfeeding. Also, because the breastmilk is easy to digest (it colonizes the gut with good bacteria needed to keep the intestines healthy), breastfed babies spit up less often and have less diarrhea and constipation.
The National Cancer Institute reports that babies, who are breastfed for at least 6 months, are 30 percent less likely to develop some forms of childhood leukemia and have:
• Three times fewer ear infections
• Five times fewer urinary tract infections
• Seven times fewer allergies
The Nordic Epidemiological Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Study noted that babies who breastfeed for at least 8 weeks are significantly less likely to die from SIDS. As adults, breastfed babies have less asthma, diabetes, skin conditions, allergies, heart attack, stroke, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
2. Health benefits for mother
Breastfeeding can lower the risk of breast cancer, especially for women who breastfeed for more than a year. Breastfeeding also decreases the likelihood of women developing ovarian cancer. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women are 63 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer when they have breastfed longer than 13 months. In addition, women who breastfeed for more than 31 months (combined from all children) reduce their cancer risk by up to 91 percent.
Breastmilk is always the perfect temperature and ready for baby. And unless breastmilk is being given to a baby in a bottle, you don’t have to worry about preparing or packing bottles for outings.
4. Weight loss
After baby is born, a common question mothers have is “how long will it take to lose the baby weight?” Production of breastmilk burns on average an extra 500 calories a day.
Typically, baby formula can range from $816 to $3,163 for a 12-month supply, depending on the brand and type of formula. When considering the illnesses and infections listed above, medical bills, missed wages from work and the stress of caring for a sick child, the first year after welcoming baby could be costly.
As a mother who breastfed all four children, there was nothing more natural or beautiful. A mother and child bond while breastfeeding; it’s an experience I wish for all mothers.
Amery Hospital & Clinic offers complimentary breastfeeding classes four times a year and a complimentary breastfeeding support group (The Baby Bistro) every Wednesday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Find out more and check out additional expectant parent classes.
American Academy of Pediatrics
KellyMom - Parenting and Breastfeeding
International Lactation Consultant Association
United States Lactation Consultant Association
Alm B, et al. Breast feeding and the sudden infant death syndrome in Scandinavia, 1992–95. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2002;86:400-402.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, From the School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/
Xiao Ou Shu, Martha S. Linet, Michael Steinbuch, et. al. Breast-Feeding and Risk of Childhood Acute Leukemia. J Natl Cancer Inst 1999; 91: 1765-1772