Breast milk is the ideal source of food for your baby, but the advantages of breastfeeding extend far beyond nutrition. Breastfeeding benefits the environment, the economy and most importantly the health and well-being of mothers and children throughout the world. Here are some examples of the many ways breastfeeding benefits individuals, families and our society.
- Breastfed children are healthier with stronger immune systems.
- Essential nutrients in breast milk promote the development of the brain, eyes and nervous system.
- Breastfeeding decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Breastfeeding reduces a child's risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, allergies, diabetes and childhood cancer.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus shrink back to it's normal size more quickly after delivery. This reduces the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
- Nursing may help prevent heart disease since it is linked to a decrease risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Breastfeeding mothers have a reduced the risk of ovarian, breast and uterine cancer as well as type II diabetes and rhematoid arthritis.
- Formula, bottles, nipples, and bottle liners are very expensive. Even with the purchase of a few breastfeeding supplies, breastfeeding can still save a family thousands of dollars a year.
- It's less complicated to go on outings and travel with a breastfed baby. There is not as much to pack and carry when a child does not use bottles and formula. Plus, there's no worry about running out of supplies, washing bottles or finding somewhere to warm up formula.
- Nightime breastfeeding is easier on dads. Since there are no bottles to make in the middle of the night dads and partners may even get a little sleep.
- Due to the health benefits that nursing provides children and their moms, breastfed families are generally healthier, even long-term. Health care costs for healthy families tend to be much lower.
- As more women choose to breastfeed, government programs that provide formula to families can save millions of dollars.
- Breastfed children are healthier so parents take less time off from work. This gives employers the benefit of a more productive work force while they also save money on employee insurance claims.
- When infants and children are healthy, they spend less time at the doctor's office and in the hospital each year. Increasing the breastfeeding rates could save governments billions of dollars in health care costs.
American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother's Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby's First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.
Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition. Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.
León-Cava, Natalia. Quantifying The Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Summary of Evidence. Pan American Health Organization. Washington, D.C. 2002.
United States Breastfeeding Committee. Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding [issue paper]. Raleigh, NC: United States Breastfeeding Committee; 2002.
Weimer, Jon. The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis. Food and Rural Economics Division, Economic Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. 13. Washington, D.C. March 2001.