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Why Breastfeeding Matters

Breastfeeding is the standard for infant feeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of life, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life. Breast milk keeps babies healthy and provides perfect nutrition for good growth and health.

Breastfeeding supports...

  • Healthy digestion, less constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach
  • Optimal brain growth, important for intelligence and vision
  • Normal weight gain
  • Jaw development and healthy teeth

Breastfeeding protects your baby from...

  • Allergies and asthma
  • Diseases, like diabetes and cancer
  • Infections, like ear infections
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

Breastfeeding keeps mothers healthy

  • Protects against breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers
  • Protects against osteoporosis and bone fracture
  • Reduces the risk of postpartum depression
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Helps mothers return to pre-pregnancy weight, and keep extra weight off after weaning
  • Helps the uterus return to normal size, decreasing risk of excess blood loss
  • Delays return of fertility in women exclusively breastfeeding
  • Reduces insulin needs in diabetic mothers
  • Builds self-confidence and mother-baby bonding
  • Helps mothers get more overall sleep

Breastfeeding is good for the economy and the environment

  • Families save several hundred dollars compared to the cost of using artificial formula.
  • Employers benefit from reduced employee absenteeism, when mothers take fewer sick days.
  • Health care systems save money since breastfed babies require fewer sick care visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations.

How can I support breastfeeding?

  • Encourage women to breastfeed their babies, and to prepare for breastfeeding prenatally.
  • Show a positive attitude about breastfeeding. Be a role model for others.
  • Become aware of the breastfeeding support services in your community, so you can be a resource to breastfeeding mothers and their families.
  • For Dad: Help fathers understand how to support their breastfeeding partners. A mother is much more likely to continue breastfeeding with dad’s support.
  • Let a breastfeeding mother’s family members and friends know the important role they have in supporting breastfeeding.
  • Tell breastfeeding co-workers that you applaud their decision to continue breastfeeding.
  • Offer assistance to new breastfeeding mothers.
  • Smile or give a thumbs up to women who are breastfeeding in public places.

Source: Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, and corresponding references.