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Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many benefits. Even if you only breastfeed your baby for a short period, your breast milk can promote your baby’s health and well-being, as well as your own. Here are some of the many advantages of breastfeeding for a mother and her baby:

Benefits for Baby

Infants receive the most complete form of nutrition available from their mother’s milk. It has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein for a baby’s growth and development. Most babies digest breast milk more easily than formula.

A mother’s body adjusts the milk to match her baby’s needs precisely. Breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should, often gaining less unnecessary weight than formula-fed babies. As a result, breastfed children may be less overweight later in life.

Premature babies who breastfeed do better than premature babies who are fed formula. Breastfed children also perform slightly higher on IQ tests than formula-fed children, particularly if they were born prematurely.

Benefits for Mom

Your body needs extra calories to make breast milk, so you will find it easier to lose the weight of pregnancy if you nurse your infant. Your uterus will also shrink more quickly, and you will bleed less after childbirth. 

If you breastfeed your baby, especially if you breastfeed exclusively (without any formula), you may delay the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. (You still need to talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control options while breastfeeding.)

Breastfeeding has been shown to lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.

Breastfeeding saves you time and money since you don’t purchase, measure, or mix formula. You have no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!

When your baby cries, you can put your baby right on the breast. There is no delay and no equipment. You simply relax quietly with your child. Your baby will feel secure, warm and comforted, and you will enjoy a self-confidence and intimacy that can help you bond even closer with your baby.

Benefits for Society

Breastfeeding saves us money as a society, because total medical costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than for never-breastfed infants. Breastfed infants require fewer doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.

Because breastfed babies are sick for less time, mothers who breastfeed miss less work and raise workforce productivity compared with mothers of formula-fed infants. They also lower medical costs for employers.

Breastfeeding reduces the cost to our environment. Breast milk leaves no trash and uses no energy to produce, whereas formula creates waste and requires energy to prepare.

Adapted from: 4woman.gov