Friday, August 03, 2012

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

This week is National breastfeeding week. And although the week is almost over I thought I would post some neat health benefits of breastfeeding.

1. Breastfed babies see better - breastmilk contains the type of fats needed to build better nerve tissue in the eyes and the brain

2. Breastfed baby hear better - there are more middle ear infections among formula fed babies which can contribute to hearing problems.

3. Breastfed infants have better smiles - breastfeeding improves jaw alignment and the development of facial muscles so children who are breastfed experience fewer orthodontic problems.

4. Breastfed babies breathe better - they have fewer and less severe upper-respiratory infections, asthma, and nasal allergies.

5.  Breast milk is easier for babies to digest - breast milk is designed  for human infants so it is easier to digest for than formula. Breast milk empties more quickly from the stomach, which makes it less likely that breastfed babies will have problems with gastroesophageal reflex.

6. Breast milk protects immature intestines - breast milk contains immune substances that act like a protective paint, coating the digestive tract to keep germs from entering the bloodstream. This means that breastfed babies have less trouble with intestinal infections and diarrhea. They are also less likely to develop food allergies, because they are protected from exposure to foreign proteins that inflame the intestinal lining.

7. Breastfed babies have healthier skin - they are less likely to experience the allergic, rough, dry, sandpaper like rashes found in some formula fed babies. Breastfeeding is especially important if there is a family history of eczema or skin allergies.

8. Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese adults - Breastfeeding teaches healthy eating habits right from the start. Infants learn to match their intake to their appetite, without anyone prodding them to finish the last 1/2 ounce. Breastfed babies tend to be leaner (just the right amount of fat for their body weight) than their formula fed friends, ad leanness is an important contributor to overall health.

9. Breastfed babies are protected from many diseases - Breastfeeding is associated with a lower incidence of virtually every kind of infectious disease, including bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infection, and infant botulism. Children who were breastfed are less likely to develop juvenile-onset diabetes, Crohn's disease, and childhood cancer. Rates of SIDS are also lower among breastfed babies.

10. Breastfeeding makes Mommy healthier - At least one study has shown that breastfeeding mothers have a lower incidence of postpartum depression. Other studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. It is also associated with a lower incidence of osteoporosis. Many women also find that breastfeeding helps them to lose weight postpartum.

I am very grateful that I am able to breastfeed my baby. We both love it. And I will continue to do so until he decides he doesn't need to anymore; I hope that it will continue for a long time. It has given us a great bond and I know that my baby loves me because of it.

References - "The Attachment Parenting Book" by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

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