Tips For Pregnant Mums

Breastfeeding - Why Should You Breastfeed?

12 February 2020

From the moment you announce your pregnancy, you begin to hear that breastfeeding is best for your baby. Sometimes you are convinced you will breastfeed, other times you are not so sure. You definitely know you want what’s best for your baby.

Health organizations around the world have definitively established that breast milk is the healthiest, most nutritious food for your baby.  Decades of comprehensive research have shown that breast milk is, without a doubt, the ideal food for your baby, and even protects him from diseases. Breastfeeding is a long-term investment and provides genuine health benefits. But what about you, the mother? It is important that you are ready, because breastfeeding is not always easy; sometimes it requires you to have incredible perseverance and overcome physical obstacles. You should know that even you win big time when you breastfeed.

Why breastfeed? In a nutshell…

Breastfed Babies:

  • Are hospitalized less than babies who are formula-fed
  • Have fewer ear infections
  • Have fewer digestive problems
  • Have fewer rashes and allergies

Other Important Findings:

  • The protein present in breastmilk effectively “jump-starts” the baby’s immune system (National Academy of Sciences USA).
  •  It is estimated that formula-fed babies are hospitalized 14 times more than breastfed babies (The Journal of Human Lactation, No. 2, 1993).
  • The World Health Organization and experts from other fields encourage mothers to breastfeed for as long as possible – at least one year – because breast milk provides the best nutrition and the highest rate of protection from bacteria and infections (Breastfeeding Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics).
  • The US Department of Health (and the AAP) recommend breastfeeding exclusively until baby is 6 months old, and introducing solid foods while continuing to breastfeed until the end of the first year.
  • Breast milk contains over 100 nutrients not found in formula. These components are highly valuable for your baby, and include cholesterol and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are important elements in building brain tissue, brain function, visual and auditory development, and are the biochemical basis for various enzymes throughout your baby’s body.
  • Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk and severity of diabetes, pediatric cancer, obesity, asthma, bronchitis, bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infections, and many other illnesses.
  • Studies have shown that breastfeeding for four months can reduce the risk of Crohn’s disease, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, juvenile diabetes, and certain cancers that effect young children. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Recent studies have indicated that the same qualities in breast milk protect both the baby and the breastfeeding mother from diabetes and juvenile diabetes. Mothers who breastfed for at least one year are 15% less likely to be diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) than women who did not breastfeed. For each year the mother breastfed, her risk of developing the disease is reduced another 15% (Journal of American Medical Association, Volume 294 N0. 20, November 2005).
  • Breastmilk transmits active and passive antibodies against any disease the mother was exposed to throughout her life.
  • Breastmilk increases the cognitive ability to function as a painkiller during painful medical procedures (American Academy of Pediatrics).
  • A study following women in a Chinese village found that mothers who breastfed for two years or more reduced the risk of breast cancer by 50% (American Journal of Epidemiology).
  • Breastfeeding is beneficial to reducing the chances of ovarian cancer, and increases the likelihood of mothers quickly returning to their pre-pregnancy weight.
  • Mothers who decide to breastfeed strengthen their own bones. Although breastfeeding initially decreases bone density, within two years the bones are stronger than they were before pregnancy. In fact, breastfeeding allows women the rare opportunity to repair small cracks in their bones, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis resistance. Johns Hopkins University is currently conducting research to determine the effect of pregnancy on female bone structure and density.
  • In 1994, a study was conducted to determine the frequency of breast cancer in women who breastfed for different lengths of time, compared to women who did not breastfeed. When comparing the frequency of breast cancer in premenopausal women, it was found that there was a 15% reduced risk in women who breastfed for up to 3 months, a 22% reduced risk in women who breastfed for 4-12 months, and a 34% reduced risk for women who breastfed for 13-24 months (Newcomb, P.A. et al, The New England Journal of Medicine 330(2): 81-87).
  • In 1994, a study was conducted to determine if breastfeeding protects women against breast cancer later in life (for both premenopausal and post-menopausal breast cancer). The results showed that women who were breastfed, even for a short period of time, reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by 25%, compared to women who were formula-fed (Freudenheim, J. et al, Epidemiology 5: 324-331).
  • Of the various types of leukemia, the most common cause of cancer-related death in children under the age of 15 in the United States, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common in children. Recent studies have shown that children who were breastfed for at least six months had a 24% reduced chance of getting the disease. There is even a reduced risk for less-common types of leukemia. Children who were breastfed for up to six months reduced the risk by 12% (Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 113, Number 2, February 2005).
  • Breastfed children are less likely to have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Babies who breastfeed during the transition to solids reduce their risk by 52% compared to babies who were not breastfed (Archives of Disease in Childhood, November 2005).
  • Breastfeeding is an eco-friendly choice: formula packaging is a heavy burden on Earth’s natural resources. An estimated 87,203 tons of tin and paper have been accumulated from empty formula packages (La Leche League, May 2002).
  • Breastfeeding is cost-effective from both a personal and public perspective: reducing the need for health treatments, fewer absences from work, and less energy consumption (American Academy of Pediatrics). All information is taken from research articles or their prefaces.