Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Benefits Of Extended Breastfeeding

There is no doubt that any amount of time you can breastfeed your baby is valuable. What most people aren't aware of are the tremendous benefits of extended breastfeeding. Statistics say that 75% of women start breastfeeding, 43% are breastfeeding at six months, and 22% are breastfeeding at one year. The number one response I hear from people when I tell them I want to breastfeed M for at least two years is that it's weird. Unfortunately this is a pretty common opinion. I feel like most people feel this way because they aren't aware of the benefits. Many women know that breast is best, but do they know why?

  • Breastfed children have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter durations.
  • World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness."
  • Studies have shown that one of the best ways to prevent allergies and asthma in children is to breastfeed for at least six months.
  • Research has been done to show the link between cognitive achievement and children who were breastfed for long periods of time. These include IQ scores and school grades. It was found that children who were breastfed had an average of ten higher IQ points.
  • "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." Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in
  • Breastfeeding babies prevents obesity. Even in infancy, breastfed babies as a group are leaner than their formula-fed peers.
  • Breastfed babies have better jaw alignment and are less likely to need orthodontic work as they get older.
  • Some researchers believe that breastfeeding during infancy may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes in later life.
  • Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes mellitus during childhood.
  • Lowered risk of multiple sclerosis.
There are also many benefits for the mother. Breastfeeding truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.
  • Lesser rate of osteoporosis.
  • Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than do formula-feeding mothers.
  • Promotes postpartum weight loss.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
These are a couple links that will give even more information on the benefits of breastfeeding. Click here and here. I tried to look up the advantages of formula feeding to add to this, but could not find any. I'm not bashing formula, but the info just isn't out there. All I could find were the benefits of breast milk over formula. There are certainly situations were formula can be a life save for mothers. Just know that in the beginning it may not be easy, but it is so worth it. I would also like to add that there are many milk banks out there. Many mother's will donate their breast milk and some for a fee.

‎"Bottles fill his stomach but breastfeeding fills his soul." - Diane Weissinger
"Parents and health professionals need to recognize that the benefits of breastfeeding (nutritional, immunological, cognitive, emotional) continue as long as breastfeeding itself does, and that there never comes a point when you can replace breast milk with infant formula, cows' milk or any other food, or breastfeeding with a pacifier or teddy bear, without some costs to the child."
KA Dettwyler, "Beauty and the Breast" from Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, 1995, p. 204.

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