Breastfeeding benefits you and your baby in many ways. As you decide whether or not breastfeeding is your best option, here are some things to think about. Keep in mind that your health and the health of your baby are the most important considerations. This is a personal decision, and no one has the right to condemn your choice—no matter what you decide.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding your baby exclusively for the first 6 months, and then continuing breastfeeding as you introduce solids for the first year or longer.1
- Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It’s easily digested and contains the right nutrients for your growing baby.
- The first milk you produce, called colostrum, is just what your baby needs for the first few days before your milk comes in all the way. It helps them pass their first stool, the thick, tar-like meconium.
- Babies digest breast milk more easily than formula.
- Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect your baby.
- Evidence shows that breastfeeding your baby can reduce the risk of respiratory illness, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases, childhood leukemia, allergies, asthma, and eczema.2, 3
- Formula is more expensive than breast milk.
- Breastfeeding your baby improves bonding.
- Studies show that breastfeeding may reduce long-term weight retention in obese women.4, 5
- The uterus is stimulated when you breastfeed, helping it to go back to its normal size.
- Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer.6
- Breastfed babies have a lower incidence of obesity throughout their lives.7
- Diapers produced from breast milk are a lot less smelly than diapers produced from formula.
- The risk of SIDS is reduced in babies who breastfeed.8
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- "AAP Reaffirms Breastfeeding Guidelines." American Academy of Pediatrics. 27 Feb. 2012
- "Breastfeeding: Why Breastfeeding Is Important." Office on Women's Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 July 2014
- "Breastfeeding Benefits Your Baby's Immune System." HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 July 2014
- Sharma, AJ, DL Dee, and SM Harden. "Adherence to Breastfeeding Guidelines and Maternal Weight 6 Years After Delivery." Pediatrics. 1 Sept. 2014
- Baker, JL, M. Gamborg, BL Heitmann, L. Lissner, TI Sorensen, and KM Rasmussen. "Breastfeeding Reduces Postpartum Weight Retention." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1 Dec. 2008
- "Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom." HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 July 2014
- Gillman, M., S. Rifas-Shiman, C. Camargo, C. Berkey, L. Frazier, H. Rockett, A. Field, and G. Colditz. "Risk of Overweight among Adolescents Who Were Breastfed as Infants." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 Jan. 2001
- Hauck, FR, JM Thompson, KO Tanabe, RY Moon, and MM Vennemann. "Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis." U.S. National Library of Medicine. Pediatrics, 1 Jan. 2011