The health and cost saving benefits of breastfeeding are so widely known that nearly 80 percent of pregnant American women enter hospitals to give birth intending to breastfeed their newborns. Despite this intent, numbers trickle off to less than a quarter of this number breastfeeding just six months later.
One of our recent highlighted the benefits of breastfeeding. Because the reasons are so abundant, we have decided to break this up into a four-part series so we can extensively highlight each of them.
Numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding protects children from a long list of childhood illnesses including asthma, diabetes, childhood cancers, ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses and more. And there's proof that this protection lasts far beyond the stage during which the child is actually being breastfed. Scientists aren't quite sure how breastfeeding contributes to this, especially later in life, but it is believed that the breast milk strengthens the baby's immune system.
Babies who are breastfed get sick less often, and they recover quicker when they do get sick. Many people don't realize how this truly amazing process works - how mom's and baby's bodies work together to give the baby what he needs.
Each mother's breast milk is specifically tailored to her baby. Her body responds to any viruses or bacteria that she or baby are exposed to and creates antibodies to combat them, which are then passed through the breast milk. The baby's saliva actually communicates with the mother's milk production so that it's actively changing, based on his needs. It's unbelievable what our bodies are capable of doing!
Breastfeeding also protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Infants who are breastfed are about 60% less likely to die from SIDS.
And you can't ignore the health benefits for breastfeeding mothers! Breastfeeding burns approximately 500 extra calories per day. That's about the exercise equivalent of running five miles or swimming 30 laps in a pool. What new mom has time to do that?
It's also been proven that mothers who have breastfed their children lower their risks for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Stay tuned! Our next entry will highlight the cost savings of breastfeeding!