Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Breast Is Best: The Research

I know it's been awhile since I posted about breastfeeding. It's such a heated topic. Let me reiterate that I am more than understanding (and not judgmental) to women who don't breastfeed - it is a family choice.

But since this series is founded in research (and since I believe in breastfeeding), here comes a quick fact sheet on the benefits of breastfeeding backed by academic research...

(list compiled by Mothering from the Heart)

  • Children receive the most complete and optimal mix of nutrients & antibodies

  • The varying composition of breastmilk keeps pace with the infant's individual growth and changing nutritional needs

  • Have fewer incidences of vomiting and diarrhea in the US (20-35 million episodes of diarrhea occur in children under the age of 5, resulting in over 200,000 hospitalizations and 400-500 deaths in the U.S.)

  • Protection against gastroenteritis, necrotizing entercolitis

  • Reduced risk of chronic constipation, colic, and other stomach upsets

  • Reduced risk of childhood diabetes

  • Protection against ear infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney infections, septicemia (blood poisoning)

  • Protection against allergies, asthma, eczema, and severity of allergic disease

  • Reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Statistics reveal that for every 87 deaths from SIDS, only 3 are breastfed

  • Protection against meningitis, botulism, childhood lymphoma, crohn's disease and ulcerative entercolits

  • Decreased risk of tooth decay (cavities)

  • Nursing promotes facial structure development, enhanced speech, straighter teeth and enhances vision

  • Breastfed infants develop higher IQ's, and have improved brain and nervous system development; IQ advantage of 10-12 points studied at ages 8, 12, and 18. (Breastfeeding is considered the 4th trimester in brain growth and development...there are specific proteins in human milk that promote brain development)

  • Reduced risk of heart disease later in life

  • Increased bone density

  • Breastfeeding plays an important role in the emotional and spiritual development of babies

  • Breastfed babies enjoy a special warm bonding and emotional relationship with their mothers

  • Antibody response to vaccines are higher

  • Are hospitalized 10 times less than formula fed infants in the first year of life

  • The colostrum (first milk) coats the GI tract, preventing harmful bacteria and allergy -triggering protein molecules from crossing into baby's blood

  • Decreased risk for vitamin E and Iron deficiency anemia

  • Decreased risk for acute appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, inguinal hernia, pyloric stenosis

  • There are factors in human milk that destroy E coli, salmonella, shigella, streptococcus, pneumococcus....and many others

  • Less risk of childhood obesity

  • Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers

  • Reduced risk of anemia

  • Protection against osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life

  • Reduced risk of mortality for women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with total time of lactation

  • Helps the mother's body return to its pre-pregnancy state faster - promotes weight loss...1/2 of calories needed to manufacture milk is pulled from fat stores... can burn from 500 - 1,500 calories per day.

  • Helps delay return of fertility and to space subsequent pregnancies

  • Develops a special emotional relationship and bonding with her child

  • Breastmilk is free- reducing or eliminating the cost of formula (in the thousands of dollars/per year)

  • Breastfed babies are sick less thus reducing healthcare costs to family in Doctor office visits, prescriptions, over the counter medicine purchases, and hospitalizations

  • Moms miss less time off from work due to child related illnesses

  • Helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding

  • Breastfeeding reduces the cost of healthcare by promoting healthier children and mothers..........If all WIC babies in the U.S. were breastfed, our economical savings would be $33,000,000 per month ..........In 1993, 90,000 babies were hospitalized for RSV at a cost of 450 million dollars. Currently, the U.S. spends over 1 billion dollars a year on Otitis Media (ear infections)

  • Reduced insurance premiums for both parents and employers

  • Breastfeeding reduces global pollution by decreasing the use of resources and energy required to produce, process, package, distribute, promote and dispose of materials created by the manufacture and use of artificial baby milk

  • Reduced tax burden on communities and government to ensure children are properly fed

  • Reduced absenteeism in the workplace due to children's illnesses

  • Breastfeeding makes you feel good, the hormones produced during nursing have an endorphin effect giving you a relaxed feeling.
  • You have a great excuse to sit down and relax.....
  • You can nurse while sleeping...nursing moms get more rest than formula feeding moms.
  • Breastfeeding saves moms about 7 hours a week off their feet.
  • No screaming baby in the middle of the night waiting on the formula to heat up.
  • It's the only time you can ever lose weight without dieting or exercise!
  • Breastfeeding is more convenient, when traveling, all you need is to take diapers, the milk is always available, sterile, and the right temperature.
  • During times of disaster, you don't have to worry about finding formula.
  • Breastfed babies smell great....spit ups don't stain, or smell, and poopie diapers are not offensive...(until solids are introduced)
  • Breastfed babies know their moms and will never confuse them with a sitter.
  • The strong bond developed with nursing is much more intense.
  • There is no feeling to describe the child suckling at your breast and letting go to give you a big smile; and knowing that the growth of your baby came from what your body produced! Wow! What a feeling!
  • The satisfaction of knowing you are giving your baby the best start in life!
  • Breastmilk taste great! Sweet tasting! Variations in taste according to foods moms eats. Have you ever tasted formula? Ugh!
  • Breastfeeding requires the use of only one arm....you can do other things while breastfeeding, (except cooking and driving)


  1. I'm a fan. My problem with it, don't know how to ween very well. I didn't really have to with my first. But now, Hilly almost 13 months old is still getting one or two a night.

  2. Right now, I'm reading the book "Nursing Your Baby" by Karen and Gale Prior and it has a ton of good information in it, just like you have here! Breastfeeding is such a good idea, not only for you but for the baby as well.

  3. I love breastfeeding. And definitely plan (who knows if all my babies will cooperate) to breastfeed all my children.

    one small quibble: Breastmilk is only free if you consider the Mom's time to be worth nothing! Call me arrogant, but I think my time is worth a lot! With bottle feeding, that cost can be shared, with nursing it is 100% on the Mom.

  4. OH, and I don't know if nursing Mom's get more rest. Most nursing mom's I know feed their kids more often during the night. That, and non-nursing Moms can have their DH take a turn.

  5. Okay--one more then I'm done. I do agree 100% that breast is a great and wonderful option with a lot of benefits. I am just sensitive right now because a dear friend wants with her whole heart to breastfeed but it just isn't working. So we've been talking more about the pros and cons of each.

  6. i really hope i am able to. i have high hopes! and questions. i should research.

  7. Great post so much information. Something I lacked with my first. I am glad you are sharing. Have you thought of checking out blog frog and starting a community. You could reach more women.

  8. When I had my baby last year breastfeeding was definitely encouraged in the area I lived. Some of the women I knew that were having babies and I were all for breastfeeding. What they don't tell you is that a lot of women have some sort of trouble with it. All of us in our 'play' group did, from over milk production, under milk production, almost no milk production, inverted nipples, to cracking and bleeding. We all pretty much stuck with it (even the woman with almost no milk production tried everything to help produce for 2-3 months.) While I agree that breast is best we should not be elitest and try to be understanding of those who chose not to or cannot.

  9. I even nursed twins. My kids are big now but the #1 best new mom decision I've made. Stopping by from MMB.


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