Lots of new mothers choose to breastfeed – a breathtaking 77%, actually, which is higher than in years past – but they have a myriad of reasons for doing so, each one just as valid to them as the next. But if you're on the fence about breastfeeding your newborn and don't want to rely on overhyped claims, whether for or against breastfeeding, how do you determine what to do? If you're looking for the pros of breastfeeding without any of the fuss or wild claims you might find on mommy blogs, then here's what you need to know.
Growing the Brain
A bigger brain volume leads to a bigger cortical surface area, which leads to better cognitive function – a good thing for everyone, but especially desired in babies born prematurely, as they have less time to develop. For these preemies, (defined as babies born at least 10 weeks before their due date), this much-desired bigger brain volume can be achieved by feeding the baby a steady diet of breast milk, as a study done in St. Louis found. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on music and TV programs that claim to help your baby get smarter, make a concrete difference by breastfeeding your baby.
Brush Off Disease
Plenty of health conditions and diseases can plague an infant during their first few years of life – but studies have shown that breastfeeding can help lower your baby's chances of developing these nasty (and sometimes life-threatening) conditions. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, SIDS, ear and gastrointestinal infections (including necrotizing enterocolitis, which targets preemies), and even obesity occur less often when your baby is breastfed, at least (and exclusively) for their first 6 months of life, but preferably through their first year, as they are supplemented with other foods during this time period as well.
Improve Your Life
The benefits of breastfeeding aren't all for your baby, though – which is good news for a new mother that feels like her body's been put through a blender set on high. Women who breastfeed report lower rates of medical conditions such as breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and even post-partum depression. Along with the beneficial impact of these important disease preventions, breastfeeding also helps you save money on formula and gives you a perfect opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which is good for both you and your baby. Contact your doctor, such as at Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP, for more information.