(The following is a press release from Merit Health Wesley. Visit www.MeritHealthWesley.com for more details.)
August is National Breastfeeding Month, and for expectant mothers, it's a great time to learn about the benefits breastfeeding provides for both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding provides new babies with the nutrients needed for a healthy first year of life and provides many other benefits for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding provides the healthiest of foods for newborns and also creates a very special time for mother and child to bond through skin-to-skin contact. Physical contact is important to newborns because it helps babies to feel more secure, warm and comforted. Mothers also benefit from this closeness as skin-to-skin contact boosts levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps breast milk flow and can calm the mother.
Health Benefits for Baby
The cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique and changes to meet each baby's needs. Research suggests that breastfed babies have lower risks of:
• Childhood leukemia
• Childhood obesity
• Ear infections
• Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
• Diarrhea and vomiting
• Lower respiratory infections
• Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
• Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
• Type 2 diabetes
Health Benefits for Moms
Breastfeeding helps a mother's health and healing following childbirth and may lead to:
• Lower Risk of Type 2 diabetes
• Lower Risk of certain types of breast cancer
• Lower Risk of ovarian cancer
How does breastfeeding compare to formula-feeding?
For most babies, especially premature babies, breast milk substitutes like formula are more difficult to digest. Because formulas are made from cow's milk, it may take time for a baby's stomach to adjust for digestion.