World Breastfeeding Week is August 1 - 7!
On the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, held annually from August 1-7, we thought we'd throw some medical facts about the benefits of breastfeeding at you. It's some pretty compelling stuff, ladies.
So what're the benefits to the baby, you ask? Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat - everything your baby needs to grow. And it's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
In some studies, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood. What's more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
And there are benefits for mom, too! Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too. Breastfeeding also gives you regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as you bond.