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Breastfeeding

Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. It has nutrients that are not found in formula.

There are many benefits of breastfeeding:

  • convenience: you do not need to prepare
  • Did you know?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for one year.

    The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years.

  • financial: your family can save up to $3,000 a year in formula costs
  • public health: breastfeeding babies are healthier than babies who formula feed
  • environmental: there is no clean-up or waste
  • emotional: breastfeeding provides security, comfort and bonding

Benefits for your baby

Breastfed babies are known to:

  • have healthier immune systems
  • be less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza and meningitis
  • Did you know?

    Breastmilk does not stain clothing and it produces less-smelly diapers than formula.

  • have decreased response to allergies
  • have a lower risk for diseases such as diabetes, childhood cancer and asthma
  • have a lower risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • be less likely to be overweight or obese
  • have fewer doctors’ visits and hospital stays

Any amount of breastmilk gives your baby’s immune system positive effects, both short- and long-term. Breastmilk changes as your baby develops, making it the perfect food for growth and development.

It is the only food your baby needs for the first six months.

Benefits for you

For you, breastfeeding:

  • helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
  • Tip

    After your baby is born, contact a lactation consultant and consider scheduling an appointment for a personal breastfeeding assessment.

  • helps reduce bleeding after birth
  • can help protect against breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, anemia and urinary tract infections
  • helps you lose weight
  • releases hormones that help you relax and enjoy your baby

You and your baby are partners in breastfeeding. You both are learning together. It is normal if it takes awhile for you to feel comfortable with breastfeeding.

Tip

Program your lactation resource(s) into your phone.

Your baby may nurse well right from the start. Or, your baby may need more time before breastfeeding is well established. That means being a little more patient and making sure you are doing what you need to be physically comfortable during a feeding.

Getting some support and advice if you feel there is a problem can make breastfeeding go more smoothly.


 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition

To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."

First published: 02/01/2010
Last updated: 01/01/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic