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The benefits of breastfeeding

Congratulations on your great news: You’re having a baby!

Along with the excitement, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices and decisions you’ll need to make as a new mom. One of those decisions is whether or not to breastfeed. If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, there are many benefits—for your baby and you.

Here are five reasons to consider breastfeeding your baby:

  1. It gets a thumbs-up from doctors. If you discuss this with your doctor or midwife, there’s a good chance they’ll encourage breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.
  2. It provides important nutrients for babies. Human milk is easier for babies to digest, and it provides the nutrients, calories and fluids your baby needs to be healthy, including growth factors for the best development of your baby’s organs.
  3. It lowers the risk of certain diseases and conditions for babies. Breast milk contains cells, hormones and antibodies that help protect babies from illnesses, including asthma, leukemia (during childhood), obesity (during childhood), ear infections, eczema, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and type 2 diabetes.
  4. It promotes bonding between you and your baby. The physical contact of breastfeeding creates warmth and closeness, helping create a special bond between the two of you.
  5. It offers health benefits for moms too. You may be surprised by the variety of health benefits breastfeeding provides you as a mom. Among other things, breastfeeding:
  • Helps your uterus quickly return to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Burns calories to aid in post-pregnancy weight loss.
  • Reduces the risk of diseases and medical conditions, including breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Releases hormones in your body that promote mothering behavior.
  • Strengthens bones, which helps protect against bone fractures as you get older.
  • Helps keep iron in your body by delaying the return of your menstrual period.

Your doctor or midwife can answer any questions you may have about breastfeeding. Don’t hesitate to speak up.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Office on Women’s Health

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