Extended Breastfeeding

Source: kellymom.com

Source: kellymom.com

While there is much important information out there about nursing in the early days, weeks, and months of your child’s life, we hear less about the nursing relationship after a child’s first birthday and beyond.  Nursing beyond the first year of life is often referred to as extended breastfeeding here in the US, though other cultures don’t consider breastfeeding to be “extended” until after a child’s third birthday, as longer nursing relationships are more common.

Rates of Extended Breastfeeding

According to the CDC’s 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card, approximately three-quarters of mama-baby pairs initiate a breastfeeding relationship after birth.  At six months, about half of all mama-baby pairs are breastfeeding and at baby’s first birthday, about one quarter of all mama-baby pairs still enjoys a breastfeeding relationship. In Minnesota, about 23% are nursing by the child’s first birthday.

In many nations, the rates of breastfeeding at one year are much higher; for example, India, Iran, and the majority of countries in Africa have breastfeeding rates at one year at or above 90%.

Extended breastfeeding in the US

A 1994 study in the journal Birth looked at the characteristics of women and their children when breastfeeding continued beyond a year.  This study found that:

  • Longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with greater maternal age and education and longer rates of exclusive breastfeeding
  • Nearly 70% of women who continued to nurse beyond 1 year had returned to work before the child’s first birthday.
  • About half of the women reported nursing on demand.
  • At 12 to 15 months, 54% of children were sleeping separate from their mothers (in cribs) and 37% were co-sleeping
  • The most frequently cited reason for continuing the breastfeeding relationship was the perception that it was a special way to nurture and bond with baby.

Another study of 179 women who nursed beyond one year found that the average age of weaning among this group was 2.5 to 3 years of age, with a span ranging from one month to 7 years.  Most of the women in this group described weaning as gradual and child-led.  Some also cited a subsequent pregnancy as the reason for weaning.

Support for extended breastfeeding

Most major health organizations both in the US and internationally recommend extended breastfeeding, citing significant health benefits to both mother and child.

  • The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”(AAP 2012, AAP 2005)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and “should ideally continue beyond infancy,” though not the cultural norm in the United States. They cite that the natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. They also recognize that continued breastfeeding offers a child immune protection, better social adjustment, and a sustainable food source in times of emergency and offers the mother a reduced risk of breast cancer and other illnesses. They also note that, “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.” (AAFP 2008)
  • The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine affirms breastfeeding beyond infancy as the biological norm, with average age of weaning between six months to five years.  The president of The Academy says idea that breastfeeding beyond infancy is harmful to mother or infant has absolutely no medical or scientific basis.   He notes the more salient issue is the damage caused by modern practices of premature weaning.”  The Academy further notes that increased breastfeeding duration is associated with reduced maternal risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart attack.” (ABM 2012)

Benefits of extended breastfeeding for children

Evidence shows that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues.  A 2005 study noted that human milk expressed beyond the first year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods.  A 2001 study noted that, “Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins.”

Some argue that breast milk doesn’t provide the same benefits after the first year.  However, some of the immune factors in breast milk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. In several studies, breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration, and lower mortality rates.  The World Health Organization notes the importance of breastfeeding in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness, and states that “a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five.

The benefits of extended breastfeeding continue beyond the body.  Research shows the longer a child nurses, the greater their cognitive development (as measured by IQ scores and grades in school later on).  Other studies show that children breastfed longer are more socially developed and have lower rates of mental health problems throughout childhood and adolescence.

Benefits of extended breastfeeding for mothers

Studies show the following benefits of extended breastfeeding for mothers:

  • Delayed return of fertility
  • Easier ability to lose weight if desired
  • Lowered risk of:
    • breast cancer
    • ovarian cancer
    • uterine cancer
    • endometrial cancer
    • osteoporosis
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • cardiovascular disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus in mothers who do not have a history of gestational diabetes

Beyond the measurable

Elizabeth Baldwin, attorney and author of “Extended Breastfeeding and the Law” notes the following:

“Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood. In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood[…] Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.”

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2013breastfeedingreportcard.pdf

http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/ebf-benefits/

http://kellymom.com/fun/trivia/bf-numbers/

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Hormonal Changes in Fatherhood

While many of us are well aware of hormonal changes and their effects in pregnancy and new motherhood; we don’t often hear of the physiological effects a man’s body undergoes as he becomes a father.  But doesn’t he just “supply his genetic material” and mom does the rest?  No, fatherhood actually changes a man’s physiology too.  And these changes indicate the biological importance of active fathering. DadKissingNewborn

Research shows that a man’s testosterone levels are significantly affected by fatherhood; and—even more striking—by the quality of his interactions with his child.

A large study showed that men’s testosterone levels decrease with fatherhood.  For the 600 men in the study, testosterone was measured at the age of 21 when the men were single, and again nearly five years later.  Those who had become fathers in the 4.5 years between check ups had higher baseline testosterone (T) levels compared to those not partnered with children by the second check up. However, the testosterone levels of partnered fathers declined significantly more (2 times more) than the non-fathers, suggesting fatherhood lowers testosterone levels (this even when natural age-related testosterone declines are accounted for).

What’s even more fascinating is that the men who spent three or more hours with their children each day—playing, feeding, bathing, diaper changing, reading or dressing them—had even lower levels of testosterone compared to fathers less involved in care.

Now, many men believe that more testosterone is better, so before getting bummed about these findings, let’s talk about the benefits in this hormonal change of fatherhood.

Lower testosterone levels increase the likelihood that men will remain committed to their family and be involved in a care taking role with children.  This study shows that women are not the only ones biologically adapted to caring for offspring.  It indicates that men are biologically adapted toward an active care taking role within the family system.

“A dad with lower testosterone is maybe a little more sensitive to cues from his child, and maybe he’s a little less sensitive to cues from a woman he meets at a restaurant,” said Peter Gray, a University of Nevada anthropologist who has conducted research on fatherhood and testosterone.

Lower testosterone levels exhibited in fathers are significant but subtle in the big scheme of things.  Researchers note that these fatherhood hormone “drops” are not enough to affect libido, sperm counts, muscle mass, voice range, body hair distribution/amounts, or all those other characteristics of the human man.

Lower testosterone may also provide some protection against disease.  Studies show that higher lifetime testosterone levels increase the risk of prostate cancer, suggesting that fathers in committed fathering roles might have lower long-term exposure to testosterone and thus a lowered risk of prostate cancer.

This study shows that human males have adapted to have similar hormonal systems to other animal in which the males care for young, such as some birds and primates.

Sources:

Longitudinal evidence that fatherhood decreases testosterone in human males

In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone (New York Times)

Collective Wisdom: Preparing for Baby

BlogIcons_CollectiveToday’s Collective Wisdom post asks our mamas-to-be:

In what ways have you prepared for your baby’s arrival so far?

I’ve read books on childbirth and newborns.  I’ve taken childbirth classes. (Michaela)

Driving around with an empty carseat.  Getting the nursery ready.  Splurging on a cute diaper bag. (Lindsay D.)

Washed clothes, bought diapers, picked out some cute things for her.  Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  (Hanni Go)

Hypnobirthing classes, prenatal yoga, found the perfect doula, change from hospital to Health Foundations. (Angie Murphy)

Decorated the nursery, hired a doula, found day care, taken childbirth education class, and infant CPR class. (Cassie)

Reading lots of books, forums on babycenter.com, reading birthwithoutfearblog.com, attending Parent Topic Nights at the Childbirth Collective, hiring a doula.  (Leah)

I have been practicing yoga, reading lots of books—not just about pregnancy and labor but lots about the postpartum and babies, getting his room ready, and meditating.  Oh and we hired a birth doula and are considering a postpartum doula.  (anonymous)

How have you (or how did you) prepare for baby’s arrival during your pregnancy?

Introducing Solid Foods

babyeatingBaby’s ideal first food

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities.

Food introduction: An important foundation

Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions.

When should solid food introduction begin?

Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn’t be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

  • Is at least 6 months old
  • Able to sit unsupported
  • Can push away food
  • Can turn head from side to side
  • Shows interest in what you are eating

This transition to solids can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula. Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

How to introduce new foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time.  Wait 3 to 5 days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food.  If your baby has any signs of reaction (see below), remove the food from baby’s diet for 2 to 3 months and then try again.  If your child has a life-threatening reaction to food, such as trouble breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you when he has had enough to eat.  Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth or turns his head away.  There is no reason to force a baby to eat a certain amount.  Let him control how much he eats, even if it is only a bite or two!

Many babies at first will only eat a bite or two once a day and sometimes not every day.  It depends on the baby and their development.

Enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months.

Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Symptoms that may indicate a food reaction

So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction.  If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

  • Rash or red marks around the mouth or anus
  • Hyperactivity or lethargy
  • “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)
  • Skin reactions/rashes
  • Infections/cold/flu
  • Diarrhea or mucus in stool
  • Constipation
  • Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing
  • Redness of face/cheeks
  • Ear infection
  • Other unusual symptom for your child

Food introduction suggested schedule

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

6-8 Months (Hypoallergenic, purred, mashed foods with emphasis on foods high in iron)

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Apples/apple sauce
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Squash
  • Yam
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Blackstrap molasses (high in iron)
  • Dulce or other seaweed flakes (high in iron)

9-10 Months (Mashed with more texture, and small, soft chunks)

  • All vegetables and fruits EXCEPT: tomatoes, citrus (pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes), strawberries, corn and eggplant
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Potato
  • Beans (EXCEPT soy)
  • Millet

11-12 Months (small, soft chunks)

  • All vegetables and fruits EXCEPT: strawberries, tomatoes, eggplant
  • Can add oranges, pineapple
  • All grains
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Wheat
  • Poultry
  • Meat-pureed or well-cooked small pieces
  • Tahini

12-24 Months

  • All vegetables and fruits EXCEPT: strawberries
  • Can add Tomato, Eggplant
  • Nuts & nut butters (EXCEPT NO PEANUTS OR PEANUT BUTTER)
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Soy products
  • Chocolate

2-3 years

  • Strawberries
  • Eggs

3+ Years

  • Peanuts/Peanut butter
  • Fish

 

Benefits of probiotics in pregnancy, postpartum and for baby

probiotics

Probiotics (which roughly translates to “for life”) are beneficial forms of bacteria/microbiota that can assist the human body in preventing and treating many types of illness and disease—from cancer to diarrhea.  We have these beneficial bacteria in our body naturally, but supplementation can greatly support the body in health and healing.

While nearly everyone can benefit from consuming probiotics, using probiotics is especially important and advantageous during pregnancy and once baby is born.  Read on to learn all about the amazing benefits of probiotics for mom and baby.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria living in your body that help protect against illness.  We can take supplements of these beneficial bacterial or obtain them from some food sources.  There are hundreds of different strains of probiotic, which are all important to overall health.  Certain strains are particularly good for pregnant women and others best for new mamas and babies.

While we typically think of probiotics as being good for digestive health, they do more to promote health in the body.  Probiotics are found lining the mucous membranes of your digestive, urinary, and vaginal tracts.  This last one is particularly important in pregnancy, because we want to foster healthy vaginal tissues before and during delivery (more about why below).

Additionally, probiotics are key to a healthy immune system.  These beneficial bacteria make up approximately 70% of your immune system, making them an important part of your daily defense mechanisms.  Ensuring a healthy balance of good bacteria in the body can foster overall wellness.

 Probiotics in pregnancy

Regular use of probiotics in pregnancy can offer women many benefits.  These benefits include lower risk of:

  • illness (colds and flu)
  • constipation
  • gestational diabetes
  • preeclampsia
  • urinary tract infections
  • yeast infections
  • premature labor

Use of probiotics in pregnancy has also been found to keep levels of Group B Streptococcus (Group B Strep) low.  Group B Strep is a common bacterium of the vaginal lining, but if levels of these bacteria get too high at the end of pregnancy it can pose some risks to baby.  When this issue presents itself, it is often managed during labor/delivery with antibiotics.  However, steps in pregnancy, including probiotic use, can reduce the risk of this condition.

Healthy vaginal flora is crucial to baby’s health.  Babies are born with a sterile gastrointestinal system and exposure to mom’s vaginal flora is their first exposure to the bacteria their systems will be colonized by.  Healthy vaginal flora helps give baby’s immune system a good start.  Babies also continue to receive beneficial bacteria through breastfeeding, being held skin to skin, and via saliva exchange (think pacifier “cleanings,” shared spoons, and the like) in the first year.

Postnatal Probiotics Benefits 

Recent studies have found that consuming probiotic supplements beginning in the first trimester of pregnancy and continuing their use through at least the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding can help women lose weight after the birth of their baby.  Supplements with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were linked to less central obesity (defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or a waist circumference over 80 centimeters).

Probiotic use can be especially important if you need to take antibiotics for any reason in the postpartum period (really any time you take antibiotics, you can benefit from use of probiotics).

When mamas consume probiotics, the health benefits also find their way into breast milk and are passed on to baby. Breast milk is actually the source of our first immune-building “good” bacteria.  Since baby’s gut bacteria continues to culture throughout the nursing time, it is great for mama to continue taking probiotics in the postpartum and as long as she breastfeeds.

Probiotics for baby 

In addition to receiving probiotics via breast milk, probiotics can also be given to baby directly.  Supplementation to baby can take a few forms: you can add a bit of probiotic to a bottle of milk, you can take a little probiotic on your finger to give to baby orally, or you may even put a little on your nipple and baby will ingest it during a feed.

Probiotics have numerous potential benefits for babies including the prevention and treatment of:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • eczema
  • food sensitivities, especially in infants with a family history of allergy
  • colic, one study found decreased crying times by up to 75% (look for product containing Lactobacillus reuteri)
  • diarrhea
  • ear infection
  • illness (colds and flu)

Research shows that good probiotic exposure in infancy can actually help optimize baby’s weight later in life.  Early probiotic exposure may modify the growth pattern of the child by restraining excessive weight gain during the first years of life.

Probiotics: Sources and Guidelines

Different blends of different strains of probiotic may be optimal depending on whether you are pregnant or taking them in the postpartum (or giving to baby).  We have a few excellent supplements at the clinic and we can talk to you further about what to look for in a probiotic.

Generally speaking, recommendations tend toward 1 to 10 billion Colony Forming Units for infants, and 10 to 20 billion CFU for older children and adults. To achieve and maintain a therapeutic effect, probiotics must be used consistently to ensure a sufficient and consistent population levels over time.  It can be difficult to say exactly what dose is ideal, as products vary.  Different probiotics have been shown to be effective at different levels.  Products containing a higher number of live probiotics may not be better than one with fewer.  It’s best to go with a reputable high-quality brand, ideally one that has been vetted by your health care professionals (such as us!).

There have been no reports of adverse reactions to supplementation of probiotics in moms or babies.

Food sources of probiotics

While supplementation is great, there are also many foods rich in probiotics.  Fermented foods are particularly rich in probiotics.

Food sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spirulina (with other great benefits in pregnancy and in general)
  • Miso soup
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha tea

If you have questions about probiotics, be sure to discuss them with your midwife at your next appointment, give us a call, or stop in.  We’d be happy to talk with you further about what to look for in a probiotic or connect you with a great supplement we carry.

Sources:

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Probiotics-may-help-women-regain-their-figures-after-pregnancy

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20231842

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24164813

http://cdrf.org/home/checkoff-investments/usprobiotics/probiotics-basics/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=11172991&ordinalpos=36&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Healthy Teeth from the Start

baby smileDid you know you can affect your baby’s oral health before you even conceive?!?  Did you know that when your baby is born, s/he will begin to make to make permanent teeth?  Did you know some babies are actually born with their “baby” teeth?

We were lucky to have Dr. Julie Haman of St. Paul Pediatric Dentistry give her time generously at our Mom’s Group this week, talking all about taking care of little ones’ teeth.  Here are just some tidbits of wisdom she shared with us.

Baby’s oral health starts before conception!  Studies show that mom and dad’s oral health can have a profound effect on baby’s oral health.  Maintaining good dental hygiene habits even before conception can lower the risk that baby will get cavities years later.  Studies have found that if a mama uses Xylitol regularly before conception, during pregnancy, and in the first 6 months postpartum, she can reduce baby’s risks of cavities.

Xylitol products, such as mints, can be found at health food stores.  You can also buy the powdered form and make your own recipes.  (Be careful not to over-consume as it can cause stomach upset.)

Dental decay can be passed from caregiver to baby through saliva.  Our saliva carries the bacteria that causes cavities.  Sharing spoons, giving kisses, “cleaning” that pacifier with our mouths and other common saliva-swapping care between caregiver and baby can introduce cavity-causing bacteria to baby.  The risks are higher if the caregiver has recently had an active infection/cavity.

Active oral hygiene begins with that first tooth.  Ideally, when you baby gets his or her first tooth is the best time to introduce regular brushing or other cleaning of the teeth.  Bath time can be a great time to give those tiny pearly whites a little scrub.  (You don’t need toothpaste if they are under a year and should avoid fluoride until then, as it can cause staining/whitening of the permanent teeth).  You don’t have to make it a big deal or stress out about it, but early, positive introduction of teeth cleaning can help now and down the line.  Dr. Haman also suggested just rubbing a wet washcloth along the teeth and gums in the bath or at night.

Breastfeeding sugars alone do not cause decay.  While dietary sugars and carbohydrates are a major cause of tooth decay, the sugars from breastfeeding do not pose a risk of tooth decay in babies who are exclusively breastfed.  Once other foods are introduced, however, the risk of diet contributing to tooth decay begins.

Frequent snacks and sugary drinks are a common cause of cavities.  Dr. Haman explained that having 3 or more snacks or sugary drinks (even fruit juice) per day can increase the risk of cavities—and it’s the frequency that matters here.

She also explained that not all snacks are created equal.

Tooth friendly snacks include those that are crunchy and hard—such as apples, grapes, and carrots.  Also, cheese can actually prevent cavities and so makes a great snack.  Foods that increase the risk of cavities include sticky foods like raisins, candy, and sticky fruit snacks.  Carb-heavy snacks like cheerios are also less tooth-friendly.  She advises if these latter snacks are offered to give them at the first part of snack and finish with a crunchy hard snack option and/or water.

The best ways to reduce childhood cavities, according to Dr. Haman, are:

  • Brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice daily after the age of one in high risk kids and after age two in lower risk kids.  Kids need help brushing for at least the first decade of life.
  • Limit juice, soda, and milk except at mealtime.
  • Limit frequent snacks
  • Don’t put a child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup
  • Drink fluoridated water.  (Most water in the Twin Cities is fluoridated)
  • Start dental check ups by your child’s first birthday (or six months after the first tooth shows up)
  • Visit the dentist every six months and get fluoride treatments.

Dr. Haman’s office offers free first visits to all babies under 18 months.  During this visit you can learn much more about preventative oral care.

15 Cool Facts about Breastfeeding

We all know the saying “breast is best” but here are some of the colossal benefits, and a couple quirky facts, about breastfeeding.

1.  Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, including:

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Ear infections
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Infant diarrhea
  • Common colds and flus

2.  Breastfeeding can actually reduce baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:

  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Leukemia
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

3.  Breastfeeding reduces mama’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.  The longer she breastfeeds, the higher the benefit.  In fact, a woman who breastfeeds for 8 years has nearly a 0% risk of breast cancer.

Get this—breastfeeding a baby girl actually reduces her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%.

4.  Breastfeeding saves a family approximately $2 to 4 thousand dollars annually (compared to cost of formula).

5.  Breastfeeding helps mama heal faster in the postpartum, helping her uterus return to pre-pregnancy size faster and lowering overall postpartum blood loss.

6.  Breastfeeding can help mama return to her pre-baby weight.  It takes 1000 calories a day on average to produce breast milk.  Women are advised to consume an extra 500 calories a day, and the body dips into reserves it built up in pregnancy to make the rest (it’s important to consume those extra calories or the body actually goes into “starvation mode” and holds onto the reserves).

7.  Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy; the brain only uses 20% by comparison.

8.  On average, babies remove 67% of the milk mama has available—they eat until fullness, not until the breast is emptied.

9.  Almost 75% of all moms produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right- or left- handed.

10.  Mama’s body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby.  Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.

11.  Human milk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies (who doesn’t love that?)  Breastfeeding also calms mama and helps her bond to baby.

12.  Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

13.  Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed.  This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.

14.  Breastfeeding reduces baby’s risk of cavities later on and may lower the chance they will need braces as kids.

15.  Breastfeeding mamas sleep on average 45 minutes more a night, compared to those who formula feed.