What about breastfeeding?
Whether or not to breastfeed your baby is a big decision. If you're newly pregnant, you might already be trying to figure out whether it's the right thing for you and your baby. These facts might help you decide.
Benefits for your baby
Milk from your breast is different from any formula you can buy. Research shows that it can protect your baby from problems like ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, meningitis, pneumonia and wheezing.
Breastfeeding your baby might also help your child avoid obesity. A German study conducted at Ludwig Maximillians University in Munich showed that...
- Infants who received only breast milk until they were three to five months old were more than a third less likely to be obese by the age of 5 or 6 than babies who received only formula.
- Babies who were breast-fed for six months to a year were 43 percent less likely to be obese.
- Children who were nursed for more than a year had a 72 percent greater likelihood of avoiding obesity.
Benefits for you
Breastfeeding can make things easier for you, too.
- You won't have to buy formula or prepare and wash bottles.
- If you do it for at least six months after giving birth, it can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. It can also decrease your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis.
- If you work outside the home, you may miss less time from work because your baby will probably be healthier.
A special bond
Most women say that breastfeeding makes them feel extremely close to their babies. It creates a special emotional bond that promotes a sense of trust.
Encouragement from a fellow mom
Since their mothers didn't know about all of the benefits of breastfeeding, many of today's adults may not have been breastfed as infants. That's why it's not unusual for pregnant women and new mothers to get strange reactions about the idea of breastfeeding.
But women like Clare encourage fellow moms to stick with breastfeeding.
"Don't get discouraged if it's a little bit difficult at first," says Clare, who had two children after she turned 40. "It can be hard for the baby to learn to latch on to your nipple. It might take a week for you to start feeling comfortable with the whole process. But it's definitely worth it."
It's your decision
Whether or not to breastfeed is ultimately up to you and your partner. As you make your decision, talk to...
- your doctor about any concerns you may have
- mothers who have and have not breastfed their children
- each other about whether breastfeeding would fit with your lifestyle and what you want for your family
Breastfeeding preparation class
Month 3: Maintaining health while planning ahead
Allina Pregnancy Care
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics; Health Online, Inc.
First published: 01/04/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007
Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic