Deciding to breastfeed is a decision only you can make. It deserves careful thought.
Experts agree that breastfeeding your baby for any length of time, no matter how short it is, will provide rewards for both you and your baby. Breast milk is the natural food source for infants younger than 1 year.
Breastfeeding goes smoothly for most people. For others, it may take time and practice. However, with help from nurses, breastfeeding experts, your doctor, or support groups, you can enjoy the benefits and rewards of breastfeeding.
BENEFITS FOR YOUR BABY
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for the first 6 months of life.
Breast milk also contains antibodies from the mother that can help the baby resist infections such as meningitis.
Infants who breastfeed are also less likely to have:
Breastfed babies may have less risk for developing:
BENEFITS FOR MOM
Moms who breastfeed their babies also enjoy some benefits and rewards:
Breastfeeding can save time and money, including:
While you are breastfeeding, you are less likely to have your menstrual periods.
Some circumstances can change your plans to breastfeed. How and what your baby eats may depend on the infant's physical condition and your health after birth. However, with help from a consultant, most babies -- even premature babies -- can breastfeed.
Some babies are unable to drink enough breast milk by breastfeeding, due to:
See a lactation consultant if you have:
Breastfeeding is not recommended for mothers who have certain health problems, such as:
See breastfeeding tips for ways to overcome common problems. Health care professionals, such as physicians, dietitians, nurses, and nurse-midwives, can help answer your questions.
An excellent resource is the La Leche League International -- www.lalecheleague.org.
See also: Beastfeeding support group