The Benefits of Breastfeeding

The debate between breast and bottle can get heated – and the choice ultimately depends on the mom. When it comes time to feed your baby, though, here are a few breastfeeding pros to consider, straight from mom and Southfield Pediatrics pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Supol.

Both mom and baby benefit from breastfeeding in a variety of ways. For moms, breastfeeding allows them to shed baby weight quicker and releases hormones that make them feel good. In addition, moms who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

But babies are the ones who benefit the most – from bonding with mom getting the nourishment they need.

“Breast milk is what’s best for babies. It’s got the right balance of fat and protein and carbohydrates,” Supol says.

Infants get all their immune factors from mom and it’s a wonderful (and cheap!) way to nourish your baby.

And, according to Supol, “Babies that are breastfed tend to have a higher IQ.”

In a United Kingdom study of 10,000 children, those who were exclusively breastfed in the first week of their lives performed three to five points higher in an IQ test than those kids who had been bottle fed.

And if you’re a first-time mom opting to breastfeed, here are a few things you should know.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers nurse exclusively for six months, which means no bottles. Supol adds that up to a year of breastfeeding is ideal; however, parents should be aware that babies actually wean themselves off breastfeeding.

For moms who are breastfeeding, it is important to watch your intake of caffeine and alcohol – although Supol says moms can have a glass of wine while they are nursing.

Women who have had breast augmentation or reduction and those with HIV should not breastfeed, according to Supol.

Breastfeeding is not easy for everyone, Supol admits, but if it’s something you are willing to do, it has great long-term effects.

If you are struggling to breastfeed, lactation consultants are on hand at all hospitals, and they are a wonderful resource. Some hospitals, like St. Mary Mercy in Livonia, have breastfeeding classes for moms who aren’t sure what to expect. Supol urges moms to utilize these resources.

“It’s a great experience once you get the hang of it. It’s something that takes time to learn. The more worried you get about it, the harder it is to do.”


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