You hear a lot about breastfeeding in the news these days. Some moms are given strange looks. Others are shamed for making their breasts a little more visible so they can feed their child in public. So, what is the big deal with breastfeeding? Isn’t it just one of the choices for how to feed your baby?

Breastfeeding is much more than a way to feed your baby. It is the optimum way to feed your baby. Babies are able to digest human milk much easier than formula, which is made from cow’s milk or soy. It provides the baby with exactly the nutrition he or she needs to get a good start in life. It also helps the intestines develop the bacterial flora babies need for proper digestion.

Breastmilk is more than just nutrition, too. It is a way to protect your baby.

How does breastfeeding protect your baby?

Babies who are breastfed have less risk of a long line of illnesses. A breastfed baby has a lower chance of developing ear infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea, childhood obesity, diabetes and even leukemia. Allergies and asthma also occur at a lower rate, and a breastfed baby has a decreased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

How does breastfeeding benefit moms?

Breastfeeding also provides many health benefits for moms. A woman who breastfeeds has less bleeding after delivery and is less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Many moms are happy to hear they will burn approximately 500 calories a day making milk for their babies. Who doesn’t want an easy way to lose weight?

The benefits for mom don’t stop when she stops breastfeeding. She will have less risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. She will also have less risk of developing diabetes and osteoporosis. Even when her children are grown, she is still reaping the benefits of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can have a major impact on the health of our society. It is a way to improve the health and survival of women and children, no matter their circumstances. There will be decreased infant mortality and less costly medical expenses. Breastfeeding gives babies the best start in life.

As a Baby-Friendly designated birthing facility, the UofL Health – UofL Hospital – Center for Women & Infants is proud to support breastfeeding moms and babies throughout the breastfeeding experience.

For breastfeeding information or lactation assistance, contact the UofL Hospital Lactation Center at 502-562-6081.

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Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC

Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC, has worked at UofL Hospital for 42 years, even since graduating from UofL’s School of Nursing in 1977. Within the Center for Women & Infants at UofL Hospital, she served in the newborn nursery for 28 years, and was on the Mother/Baby unit for two years before becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2012. She also serves on the Baby-Friendly committee for the hospital.

All posts by Teri Spurling, RN, IBCLC
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