Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience for both a new mom and baby, but it can also be difficult. Many new moms fear they aren’t producing enough milk or experience common, often painful, issues like mastitis or thrush, which leaves them wondering if it’s truly worth the effort.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following schedule for a breastfed baby:
Exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.
Exclusively breastfeeding a baby for the first six months has numerous health and nutritional benefits. It also tends to create a very strong connection between mother and baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Here are 5 major benefits of breastfeeding:
- More nutrients and vitamins. Mother’s milk naturally contains healthy fats, protein, lactose and oligosaccharides, which are all important for a baby’s development. It also contains essential vitamins that are more bio-available (easier to absorb).
- Boosted immune system. Breastfed babies receive antibodies through the milk that gives them a stronger immune system and the ability to fight off infections. They are also less likely to develop certain health issues such as: allergies, asthma, diabetes and leukemia.
- More diverse palate. The taste of breast milk can change depending on the foods the mother eats. Because of this, breastfed babies are introduced to various flavors, making their palate well adjusted when introduced to solid foods.
- Better digestive health. Breast milk is generally easier on a baby’s tummy than formula because it contains digestive enzymes that help break down the protein, and the protein itself is softer and more easily digested.
- Minimal cost. There is little to no extra cost involved in breastfeeding unless a mother needs to pump and freeze milk for her baby during work hours or other time away from the baby. Additionally, most health insurance policies provide breast pumps for new mothers.
While these and other benefits make breastfeeding a wonderful choice for a mother and baby, there are circumstances that can prevent a mom or baby from being successful.
At All About Women, we want to provide the breastfeeding and postpartum support you need. If you have questions or concerns, talk with one of our skilled nurse midwives or obstetricians at our Gainesville or Lake City women’s clinic.
For more information about breastfeeding, read the following articles: