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    Benefits of breastfeeding

    Nursing your baby; Lactation; Deciding to breastfeed

    Experts say that breastfeeding your baby is good for you and your baby. If you breastfeed for any length of time, no matter how short it is, you and your baby will benefit from breastfeeding.

    Learn about breastfeeding your baby and decide if breastfeeding is for you. Know that breastfeeding takes time and practice. Get help from your family, nurses, lactation consultants, or support groups to succeed at breastfeeding.

    Breastfeeding Is Good for Your Baby

    Breast milk is the natural food source for infants younger than 1 year. Breast milk:

    • Has the right amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat
    • Provides the digestive proteins, minerals, vitamins, and hormones infants need
    • Has antibodies that help keep your baby from getting sick

    Your Breastfed Baby Is Less Likely to Get Sick

    Your baby will have fewer:

    • Allergies
    • Ear infections
    • Gas, diarrhea, and constipation
    • Skin diseases (such as eczema)
    • Stomach or intestinal infections
    • Wheezing problems
    • Respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis

    Your breastfed baby may have a lower risk for developing:

    • Diabetes
    • Obesity or weight problems
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
    • Tooth decay

    Breastfeeding Is Good for You Too

    You will:

    • Form a unique bond between yourself and your baby
    • Find it easier to lose weight
    • Delay starting your menstrual periods
    • Lower your risk for diseases such as, breast cancer and certain ovarian cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, and obesity

    Breastfeeding Can Save You Time and Money

    You can:

    • Save about $1,000 per year when you don't buy formula
    • Avoid bottle cleaning
    • Avoid having to prepare formula (breast milk is always available at the right temperature)

    Get Help if Your Baby or You Have Special Needs

    Know that most babies, even preemies, can breastfeed. Talk to a lactation consultant for help with breastfeeding.

    Some babies may have trouble breastfeeding because of:

    • Birth defects of the mouth (cleft lip or cleft palate)
    • Problems with sucking
    • Digestive problems (galactosemia)
    • Premature birth
    • Small size
    • Weak physical condition

    You may have trouble breastfeeding if you have:

    • Breast cancer or other cancer
    • Breast infection or breast abscess
    • Poor milk supply (uncommon)
    • Previous surgery or radiation treatment

    Breastfeeding is not recommended for mothers who have:

    • Active herpes sores on the breast
    • Active, untreated tuberculosis
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or AIDS
    • Nephritis
    • Serious illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer)
    • Severe malnutrition

    References

    Payne PA, Tully MR. Breastfeeding promotion. In: Ratcliffe SD, BaxleyEG, Cline MK, Sakornbut EL, eds. Family Medicine Obstetrics. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 4.

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          A Closer Look

            Self Care

            Tests for Benefits of breastfeeding

              Review Date: 9/27/2012

              Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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