Benefits of breastfeeding
Experts say that breastfeeding your baby is good for you and your baby. If you breastfeed for any length of time, no matter how short it is, you and your baby will benefit from breastfeeding.
Learn about breastfeeding your baby and decide if breastfeeding is for you. Know that breastfeeding takes time and practice. Get help from your family, nurses, lactation consultants, or support groups to succeed at breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding - Animation
How you feed your baby is a personal decision, but if you breastfeed you're choosing to give your child a natural, nutritional food source that can benefit you AND your baby. Let's talk about breastfeeding. Many women ask me, What's so good about breastfeeding? Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for a baby. It contains just the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And they vary over time within each feeding and over the months as your baby grows, tailored. Breast milk also gives your baby the digestive enzymes, minerals, vitamins, hormones and flavors they need. Plus your baby gets antibodies and other immune factors from YOU that can help your baby resist some infections. Infants who breastfeed are less likely to have allergies, ear infections, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, skin problems, stomach or intestinal infections...and are also less likely to experience wheezing, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Breastfeeding helps mom too! You form a unique bond with your baby. You might lose pregnancy weight faster and, you have a lower risk of breast cancer, some types of ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. Your baby will need to be fed a lot, often nearly around the clock during the first few weeks after birth. It's perfectly normal. Some mothers find that bringing the baby in bed for feedings at night or placing a bassinet within reach, allows them to meet the child's needs while losing minimal rest. During the day, nap after feedings if you can. If you need to return to work soon after your baby is born, or you're a stay-at-home mom that needs some time to herself, there are plenty of pumping and storage systems available that let you continue to breastfeed your baby as long as you want. Breastfeeding goes smoothly for most people, once mother and baby get the hang of it. For others, it may take time and practice. If you run into any problems, contact a lactation consultant, a person who specializes in breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is Good for Your Baby
Breast milk is the natural food source for infants younger than 1 year. Breast milk:
- Has the right amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat
- Provides the digestive proteins, minerals, vitamins, and hormones infants need
- Has antibodies that help keep your baby from getting sick
Your Breastfed Baby is Less Likely to get Sick
Your baby will have fewer:
- Ear infections
- Gas, diarrhea, and constipation
- Skin diseases (such as eczema)
- Stomach or intestinal infections
- Wheezing problems
- Respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis
Your breastfed baby may have a lower risk for developing:
- Obesity or weight problems
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Tooth decay
Breastfeeding is Good for you too
- Form a unique bond between yourself and your baby
- Find it easier to lose weight
- Delay starting your menstrual periods
- Lower your risk for diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, breast and certain ovarian cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, and obesity
Breastfeeding can Save you Time and Money
- Save about $1,000 per year when you do not buy formula
- Avoid bottle cleaning
- Avoid having to prepare formula (breast milk is always available at the right temperature)
Get Help if Your Baby or you Have Special Needs
Know that most babies, even premature babies, can breastfeed. Talk to a lactation consultant for help with breastfeeding.
Some babies may have trouble breastfeeding because of:
- Birth defects of the mouth (cleft lip or cleft palate)
- Problems with sucking
- Digestive problems
- Premature birth
- Small size
- Weak physical condition
You may have trouble breastfeeding if you have:
- Breast cancer or other cancer
- Breast infection or breast abscess
- Poor milk supply (uncommon)
- Previous surgery or radiation treatment
Breastfeeding is not recommended for mothers who have:
- Active herpes sores on the breast
- Active, untreated tuberculosis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or AIDS
- Inflammation of the kidney
- Serious illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer)
- Severe malnutrition
John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Furman L, Schanler RJ. Breastfeeding. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2018:chap 67.
Lawrence RM, Lawrence RA. The breast and the physiology of lactation. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 11.
Newton ER. Lactation and breastfeeding. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 25.
US Department of Health and Human Services website. Office on Women's Health. Breastfeeding: pumping and breastmilk storage. www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/pumping-and-storing-breastmilk. Updated July 9, 2018. Accessed March 2, 2021.