By: Courtney Embry, RN
As a first-time mom, there are so many choices you find yourself having to make. Which crib should I buy, what car seat is the safest, what childcare do I use, and one of the most basic choices…How will I feed my baby? Formula or breast milk? When I look back at this choice with my first daughter, the choice was easy for me. I had just gone through nursing school and learned how breastfeeding was healthier. I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant but that made my choice. I was going to TRY to breastfeed. I had no one in my family that had breastfed and really didn’t have much support, but I knew it’s what I SHOULD be doing for my baby. Sadly, I was unsuccessful in my journey and switched to formula early on. Now don’t get me wrong, my five-year-old is extremely smart, totally healthy and the light of my life, but it wasn’t until I was expecting my second child that I actually studied and researched breastfeeding to make my choice more concrete. I would like to share with you what I found. The amazing benefits of breastfeeding!
When pediatricians, teachers, researchers etc. say breastfeeding is healthier for your baby, there are many, many reasons this is true. Here are some of the benefits for the baby.
1.) When you breastfeed, you are essentially giving your baby a live vaccine to protect them from so many viruses and diseases. HealthyChildren.org states “Human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy, and it also contains many substances that benefit your baby’s immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells.”
2.) Babies have less risk of childhood obesity, childhood cancers, constipation, diarrhea, allergies, and diabetes.
3.) Breastfeeding helps to regulate babies’ temperatures as well as helping to calm and soothe baby faster.
4.) Lower risk of SIDS
Not only is breastfeeding beneficial for baby, but for mom as well! Moms get to have a bond with their baby quicker and more frequently since every time they nurse their body releases Oxytocin . You know that really warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you love something so much that all feels right in the world? That’s Oxytocin! You will release this every time you feed your baby causing you to get more closely attached to your baby. Also, breastfeeding helps moms with certain diseases like decreasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, ovarian cancer as well as osteoporosis. Fun fact--when a mom weans and is done breastfeeding her body actually absorbs TWICE as much calcium so your bones are stronger after nursing!
Last but not least, the environmental benefits that occur when a mom nurses are also a reason to consider to breastfeed. The average family alone can save anywhere from $1,200-1,500 a year on formula! This does not include bottles, nipples, distilled water and the water used to wash and sanitize bottles. The cost of healthcare also goes down since babies are generally healthier and don’t have as many sick visits to the doctor or hospitalizations. There is also a reduced amount of waste and pollution as formula is having to be made in factories whereas breastfeeding is natural.
All in all breastfeeding is healthier for your baby, but it provides many more benefits for you and your family. Seek out the help of your local lactation consultant, or health department, to learn more or to receive services!
The Grayson County Health (Center) Department hosts a breastfeeding support group. For more information, contact us at 270-259-3141.