Back to Your pregnancy and baby guide. It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. But you do not have to make up your mind until your baby is born. Formula milk does not provide the same protection from illness and does not give you any health benefits. Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect.
Some women have Why breastfeeding used this phenomenon as birth control for the first few Video chic angel pics after delivery 84 First, reasons of fairness or justice often count against breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Reduces Your Disease Risk. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed experience their own benefits, such as convenience and reduced stress. Moreover, breastfeeding can cement a broader pattern in which mothers take on the Why breastfeeding of other parental responsibilities by default. Feelings and relationships Dads and partners If you have a chronic condition When pregnancy goes wrong. It Also Breastfeedibg Time and Money.
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Getting ready for the birth of your baby is an exciting and busy time. Deciding whether or not to breastfeed Why breastfeeding a very personal decision. Visit The Symptom Checker. Breast cancer. What's this? For example, several studies have found the risk of breast cancer to be higher for women who have never breastfed. When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Why is Breastfeeding Important for your Baby? Consider getting help from a lactation specialist. If possible, try to find a caregiver who is close to your workplace. Vomiting and Diarrhea. How long should I breastfeed? Why breastfeeding to main content.
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- The milk changes in volume and composition according to the time of day, nursing frequency, and age of baby to promote healthy growth.
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- Only 1 in 4 infants is exclusively breastfed as recommended by the time they are 6 months old.
- Getting ready for the birth of your baby is an exciting and busy time.
Continued breastfeeding is then recommended for at least one year, as different foods are introduced into the baby's diet 3. Breast milk contains everything the baby needs for the first six months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby's changing needs, especially during the first month of life 4. During the first days after birth, the breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum.
It's high in protein , low in sugar and loaded with beneficial compounds 5. Colostrum is the ideal first milk and helps the newborn's immature digestive tract develop. After the first few days, the breasts start producing larger amounts of milk as the baby's stomach grows. About the only thing that may be lacking from breast milk is vitamin D. Unless the mother has a very high intake , her breast milk will not provide enough 6 , 7.
To compensate for this deficiency, vitamin D drops are usually recommended from the age of 2—4 weeks 8. Colostrum provides high amounts of immunoglobulin A IgA , as well as several other antibodies 9. These antibodies are then secreted into the breast milk and passed to the baby during feeding IgA protects the baby from getting sick by forming a protective layer in the baby's nose, throat and digestive system 11 , 12 , For this reason, breastfeeding mothers with the flu may actually provide their babies with antibodies that help them fight the pathogen that is causing the sickness.
Nonetheless, if you are ill, you should always practice strict hygiene. Wash your hands often and try to avoid infecting your baby. Formula doesn't provide antibody protection for babies. Numerous studies show that babies who are not breastfed are more vulnerable to health issues like pneumonia, diarrhea and infection 14 , 15 , Breastfeeding has an impressive list of health benefits.
This is particularly true of exclusive breastfeeding, meaning that the infant receives only breast milk. In addition to reducing the risk of many infections, breastfeeding has also been shown to significantly reduce their severity Furthermore, the protective effects of breastfeeding seem to last throughout childhood and even adulthood. Breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain and helps prevent childhood obesity. This may be due to the development of different gut bacteria.
Breastfed babies have higher amounts of beneficial gut bacteria, which may affect fat storage Babies fed on breast milk also have more leptin in their systems than formula-fed babies. Leptin is a key hormone for regulating appetite and fat storage 39 , Breastfed babies also self-regulate their milk intake. They're better at eating only until they've satisfied their hunger, which helps them develop healthy eating patterns Some studies suggest there may be a difference in brain development between breastfed and formula-fed babies 3.
This difference may be due to the physical intimacy, touch and eye contact associated with breastfeeding. Studies indicate that breastfed babies have higher intelligence scores and are less likely to develop problems with behavior and learning as they grow older 42 , 43 , However, the most pronounced effects are seen in preterm babies, who have a higher risk of developmental issues.
The research clearly shows that breastfeeding has significant positive effects on their long-term brain development 45 , 46 , 47 , While some women seem to gain weight during breastfeeding, others seem to effortlessly lose weight.
Although breastfeeding increases a mother's energy demands by about calories per day , the body's hormonal balance is very different from normal 49 , 50 , Because of these hormonal changes, lactating women have an increased appetite and may be more prone to storing fat for milk production 52 , 53 , For the first 3 months after delivery, breastfeeding mothers may lose less weight than women who don't breastfeed, and they may even gain weight However, after 3 months of lactation, they will likely experience an increase in fat burning 56 , 57 , Beginning around 3—6 months after delivery, mothers who breastfeed have been shown to lose more weight than mothers who don't breastfeed 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 , The important thing to remember is that diet and exercise are still the most important factors determining how much weight you will lose, whether lactating or not 55 , During pregnancy , your uterus grows immensely, expanding from the size of a pear to filling almost the entire space of your abdomen.
After delivery, your uterus goes through a process called involution, which helps it return to its previous size. Oxytocin, a hormone that increases throughout pregnancy, helps drive this process. Your body secretes high amounts of oxytocin during labor to help deliver the baby and reduce bleeding 65 , Oxytocin also increases during breastfeeding.
It encourages uterine contractions and reduces bleeding, helping the uterus return to its previous size. Studies have also shown that mothers who breastfeed generally have less blood loss after delivery and faster involution of the uterus 3 , Postpartum depression is a type of depression that can develop shortly after childbirth. Women who breastfeed seem less likely to develop postpartum depression, compared to mothers who wean early or do not breastfeed 69 , However, those who experience postpartum depression early after delivery are also more likely to have trouble breastfeeding and do so for a shorter duration 71 , Although the evidence is a bit mixed, it's known that breastfeeding causes hormonal changes that encourage maternal caregiving and bonding One of the most pronounced changes is the increased amount of oxytocin produced during birth and breastfeeding Oxytocin appears to have long-term anti-anxiety effects.
It also encourages bonding by affecting specific brain regions that promote nurturing and relaxation 75 , These effects may also partly explain why breastfeeding mothers have a lower rate of maternal neglect, compared to those who do not breastfeed.
One study found that the rate of maternal child abuse and neglect was almost three times higher for mothers who did not breastfeed, compared to those who did On that note, keep in mind that these are only statistical associations. Not breastfeeding does not mean that you will neglect your baby in any way. Breastfeeding seems to provide the mother with long-term protection against cancer and several diseases.
The total time a woman spends breastfeeding is linked with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer 18 , 19 , Each year of breastfeeding is associated with a 4. Recent studies also indicate that breastfeeding may protect against metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems 14 , 81 , 82 , The suspension of menstrual cycles may actually be nature's way of ensuring there is some time between pregnancies.
Some women have even used this phenomenon as birth control for the first few months after delivery 84 , You may consider this change as an extra benefit. While you're enjoying precious time with your newborn, you won't have to worry about "that time of the month.
If you are unable to breastfeed, then feeding your baby with formula is still completely fine. It will provide your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs. However, breast milk also contains antibodies and other elements that protect your baby from illness and chronic disease.
Additionally, mothers who breastfeed experience their own benefits, such as convenience and reduced stress. As an added bonus, breastfeeding gives you a valid reason to sit down, put your feet up and relax while you bond with your precious newborn. Breast Milk Contains Important Antibodies. Breastfeeding May Reduce Disease Risk.
Breast Milk Promotes a Healthy Weight. Breastfeeding May Make Children Smarter. Breastfeeding Helps the Uterus Contract. Breastfeeding Reduces Your Disease Risk. Breastfeeding May Prevent Menstruation. It Also Saves Time and Money. Take Home Message.
In , Surgeon General David Satcher requested that a departmental policy on breastfeeding be developed, with particular emphasis on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding. Harder, T. Path to improved health There are several advantages to breastfeeding. Do not give a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established. Ovarian cancer.
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Why breastfeed? | The Royal Women's Hospital
Choosing whether to breastfeed or formula feed their baby is one of the biggest decisions expectant and new parents will make. Healt experts believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. But breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. For many, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical situations.
For moms who can't breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a healthy alternative. Formula provides babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Some mothers worry that if they don't breastfeed, they won't bond with their baby.
But the truth is, loving mothers will always create a special bond with their children. And feeding — no matter how — is a great time to strengthen that bond. The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. Weighing the pros and cons of each method can help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
Nursing can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nourishment and a special bonding experience that many mothers cherish. Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.
Beyond that, breastfeeding is encouraged until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing. Fighting infections and other conditions. Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from a mother to her baby and strengthen the immune system.
This helps lower a baby's chances of getting many infections, including:. Nutrition and ease of digestion. Often called the "perfect food" for a human baby's digestive system, breast milk's components — lactose, protein whey and casein , and fat — are easily digested by a newborn.
As a group, breastfed infants have less difficulty with digestion than do formula-fed infants. Breast milk tends to be more easily digested so that breastfed babies have fewer bouts of diarrhea or constipation.
Breast milk also naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires. The U. Food and Drug Administration FDA regulates formula companies to ensure they provide all the necessary nutrients including vitamin D in their formulas. Still, commercial formulas can't completely match breast milk's exact composition. Because milk is a living substance made by each mother for her individual infant, a process that can't be duplicated in a factory. Breast milk doesn't cost a cent, while the cost of formula quickly adds up.
And unless you're pumping breast milk and giving it to your baby, there's no need for bottles, nipples, and other supplies that can be costly. Different tastes. Nursing mothers usually need to extra calories per day, which should come from a wide variety of well-balanced foods.
This introduces breastfed babies to different tastes through their mothers' breast milk, which has different flavors depending on what their mothers have eaten.
By tasting the foods of their "culture," breastfed infants more easily accept solid foods. With no last-minute runs to the store for more formula, breast milk is always fresh and available whether you're home or out and about. And when women breastfeed, there's no need to wash bottles and nipples or warm up bottles in the middle of the night. Smarter babies. Some studies suggest that children who were exclusively breastfed have slightly higher IQs than children who were formula fed.
Many nursing mothers really enjoy the experience of bonding so closely with their babies. And the skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection between mother and infant.
Beneficial for mom, too. The ability to totally nourish a baby can help a new mother feel confident in her ability to care for her baby.
Breastfeeding also burns calories and helps shrink the uterus, so nursing moms may be able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker. Also, studies show that breastfeeding helps lower the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and also may help decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. Moms and babies need plenty of patience to get used to the routine of breastfeeding. Common concerns of new moms, especially during the first few weeks and months, may include:.
Personal comfort. Initially, many moms feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding. But with proper education, support, and practice, most moms overcome this. Latch-on pain is normal for the first week to 10 days, and should last less than a minute with each feeding. Many times, it's just a matter of using the proper technique, but sometimes pain can mean that something else is going on, like an infection.
Time and frequency of feedings. Breastfeeding requires a big time commitment from mothers, especially in the beginning, when babies feed often. A breastfeeding schedule or the need to pump breast milk during the day can make it harder for some moms to work, run errands, or travel.
And breastfed babies do need to eat more often than babies who take formula, because breast milk digests faster than formula. This means mom may find herself in demand every 2 or 3 hours maybe more, maybe less in the first few weeks. If a mom drinks alcohol, a small amount can pass to the baby through breast milk. She should wait at least 2 hours after a single alcoholic drink to breastfeed to avoid passing any alcohol to the baby.
Maternal medical conditions, medicines, and breast surgery. Medical conditions such as HIV or AIDS or those that involve chemotherapy or treatment with certain medicines can make breastfeeding unsafe.
A woman should check with her doctor or a lactation consultant if she's unsure if she should breastfeed with a specific condition. Women should always check with the doctor about the safety of taking medicines while breastfeeding, including over-the-counter and herbal medicines. Mothers who've had breast surgery, such as a reduction, may have difficulty with their milk supply if their milk ducts have been severed.
In this situation, a woman should to talk to her doctor about her concerns and work with a lactation specialist. Commercially prepared infant formulas are a nutritious alternative to breast milk, and even contain some vitamins and nutrients that breastfed babies need to get from supplements.
Manufactured under sterile conditions, commercial formulas attempt to duplicate mother's milk using a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins that aren't possible to create at home.
So if you don't breastfeed your baby, it's important to use only commercially prepared formula and not try to make your own. Besides medical concerns that may prevent breastfeeding, for some women, breastfeeding may be too difficult or stressful. Here are other reasons women may choose to formula feed:. Either parent or another caregiver can feed the baby a bottle at any time although this is also true for women who pump their breast milk.
This allows mom to share the feeding duties and helps her partner to feel more involved in the crucial feeding process and the bonding that often comes with it. Once the bottles are made, a formula-feeding mother can leave her baby with a partner or caregiver and know that her little one's feedings are taken care of. There's no need to pump or to schedule work or other obligations and activities around the baby's feeding schedule.
And formula-feeding moms don't need to find a private place to nurse in public. Women who opt to formula feed don't have to worry about the things they eat or drink that could affect their babies.
As with breastfeeding, there are some challenges to consider when deciding whether to formula feed. Lack of antibodies. None of the antibodies found in breast milk are in manufactured formula. So formula can't provide a baby with the added protection against infection and illness that breast milk does. Can't match the complexity of breast milk.
Manufactured formulas have yet to duplicate the complexity of breast milk, which changes as the baby's needs change. Planning and organization. Unlike breast milk — which is always available, unlimited, and served at the right temperature — formula feeding your baby requires planning and organization to make sure that you have what you need when you need it.
Parents must buy formula and make sure it's always on hand to avoid late-night runs to the store. And it's important to always have the necessary supplies like bottles and nipples clean, easily accessible, and ready to go — otherwise, you will have a very hungry, very fussy baby to answer to.
With feedings in a hour period, parents can quickly get overwhelmed if they're not prepared and organized. Formula can be costly. Powdered formula is the least expensive, followed by concentrated, with ready-to-feed being the most expensive. Possibility of producing gas and constipation. Formula-fed babies may have more gas and firmer bowel movements than breastfed babies. Deciding how you will feed your baby can be a hard decision. You'll really only know the right choice for your family when your baby comes.
Many women decide on one method before the birth and then change their minds after their baby is born. And many women decide to breastfeed and supplement with formula because they find that is the best choice for their family and their lifestyle. While you're weighing the pros and cons, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
These health care providers can give you more information about your options and help you make the best decision for your family. Formula Feeding. Larger text size Large text size Regular text size.