I have given birth to 5 sweet children. I am happy to say that I was able to successfully breastfeed all five of them during their whole first year. The World Health Organization and the AAP highly recommend breastfeeding your baby for at least their first year of life. I know many women are not able to breastfeed due to medical conditions or other situations. If it is a viable option however, I feel it is always the best choice to make for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding can help your baby stay healthy. Breast-milk contains antibodies. The antibodies can help your new baby have a stronger immune system until their immunities are fully developed. I found this to be true many times with my children. When my oldest son, my third child, was an infant, a stomach bug was passed around my extended family. My husband and I and our two daughters caught it. We were in bed for a couple of days with it. Stomach bugs are easily spread from person to person, as anyone who has ever had one is well aware. The only one in our family who didn’t catch the bug was my infant son, because he was exclusively breastfeeding. The U.S. Department of Health states that formula-fed babies have higher risks of getting ear infections, diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, Asthma, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes. By breastfeeding my babies I am helping them to be healthier.
Breastfeeding is cheaper than formula-feeding. Breast-milk is free. There can be some costs associated with it, such as purchasing a breast-pump and bags or bottles to store the milk if that is something you choose to do. However, these costs are minimal compared to the cost of formula. On amazon.com, a 12-ounce can of the cheapest formula costs about $7. My 4 month old nephew goes through 9 cans a month, so that is $63 a month, $756 a year for the cheapest formula. Some babies, however, need special formula for fussiness or spitting up or lactose allergies or other conditions. Those cans of formula cost a lot more. I don’t spend money each month for breast-feeding. I am also saving money because I don’t have to take my babies to the doctor as often as I might have to if they were formula-fed.
Breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother’s health as well. While I breastfed each of my children, I was able to quickly shed my pregnancy pounds due to burning more calories from breastfeeding. There are other health benefits for women who breastfeed. The U.S. Department of Health has concluded that breastfeeding is linked to lower risks of: Type 2 Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Postpartum Depression. I have a higher than normal chance of developing Breast Cancer because I have a relative who had it. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health published the results of a study that found that for every 12 months of breastfeeding your risk of breast cancer decreases by 4.3%. That is not a big number, but for me, everything I can do to reduce my risk of getting breast cancer counts.
Breastfeeding can boost your emotional health too. While you are breastfeeding your baby, your body releases the hormones Oxytocin and Prolactin. Both of these hormones help you relax and help you feel more nurturing to your baby. I found that when I breastfed my babies, within a few minutes of starting I would feel a noticeable difference in my mood. I started to feel more calm and peaceful, and a little sleepy sometimes. I would feel my bond with my infant increasing every time I fed him or her. I loved and looked forward to our breastfeeding sessions as a way to unwind and have meaningful interactions with my babies.
I am glad that I have been able to breastfeed all five of my children. Every woman may not be able to or may decide not to make this choice. I feel that for me and my children, it is the right choice.