The following list of reasons comes primarily from www.askdrsears.com as William and Martha Sears are considered experts in the breastfeeding field. There are tons of other resources out there including great sites and books. Some of favorite sites include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. La Leche League: www.llli.org
2. Kelly Mom: www.kellymom.com
3. World Health Organization: www.who.int
1. Breastfeeding Builds A Closeness And A Bond Like No Other. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T020100.asp
Dr. William Sears, along with his wife (who’s an RN) Martha, are the authors of “The Breastfeeding Book” which is one of the most famous and helpful books on breastfeeding available. He also has an amazing website available, sited above, full of information on breastfeeding and lots of other subjects. It’s the home of the first and best reason for why I chose to breastfeed my children.
When I nurse one of my babies, I relax. According to medical evidence, it’s in this moment that I release endorphins which are known to make you feel happy and content. At the same time, I am teaching my baby that he or she can depend on me to meet his or her needs. Plus, the milk I produce is always the perfect temperature for my child.
2. Breastfeeding Helps With Weight Control. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T020500.asp
As I read back over that, I know that it sounds as though I’m referring to the weight loss benefits of breastfeeding for the mother. And while that is a great perk of breastfeeding, it’s not really what I’m talking about here.
Again, according to Dr. Sears, “breastfeeding helps prevent obesity even in infancy.” In his article sited above, he goes on to describe a study done that looked at weights in formula-fed and breastfed babies. The breastfed babies were leaner than the formula-fed ones. Maybe this is because when you nurse, you never hold your breast up in the air, give it a shake to be sure how much is in there, and then push your baby to take just one more ounce. No, instead, when your baby says he or she is done, you accept that answer thus encouraging their natural ability to decipher full from not full.
3. Breastfeeding Lowers Your Baby’s Risk of Multiple Diseases.
From asthma and allergies to heart disease and diabetes, breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of these illnesses.
4. Breastfeeding Builds A Brighter Brain. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T020200.asp
Studies have shown that children who were breastfed have higher IQ scores overall than formula fed children. Dr. Sears points out here though, that this is an average found over hundreds of children. So while it would help raise a generation of smarter children, it may not make a profound difference on just one individual.
The reason for the intelligence boost? Breastmilk contains DHA, which is an intelligence boosting fatty-acid found naturally in breastmilk (and other foods such as certain fish).
I’d love to go on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding, but alas, I am out of time and space for this post. Please, check out all the websites and books you can when making this decision. Breastfeeding is definitely easy when you first start, but it is SO worth it. I wouldn’t trade any of the years I’ve spent breastfeeding for anything in the world. In fact, I know now that I will cry when my youngest weans. He’s 19 months and still going strong, but there will be a day much too close in my future when he turns his nose up at the idea of nursing. I pray I’ll be ready for that day.
I’m going to close repeating what I said earlier, breastfeeding is worth it! Give it a shot!