Extensive medical research indicates that breastfeeding has many benefits for both babies and mothers. Even if you are able to do it for only a short time, your baby's immune system can benefit from breast milk.
Benefits for Babies
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. It has just the right amounts of nutrients needed for a baby's growth and development. Also, most babies find breast milk easier to digest than formula.
- Breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should and tend to gain less unecessary weight, both as infants and later in life.
- Breastfed infants are statistically less likely to have common infant infections, such as ear infections, than formula-fed babies.
- Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born prematurely.
Benefits for Mothers
- Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy and get the uterus back to its original size.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
- Breastfeeding helps mothers and babies to bond. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.