Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon » Homepage

Why Breastfeeding Matters

Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding is the standard for infant feeding

BF Photo.png

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months after birth, and continuing for 2 years or more, along with complementary foods introduced at about 6 months of age. Human milk keeps babies healthy and provides optimal nutrition. 

What are the benefits of feeding my baby human milk?
  • Healthy digestion, less constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach
  • Optimal brain growth and cognition
  • Adequate weight gain
  • Jaw development and healthy teeth

What does human milk protect my baby from?
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Diseases, like diabetes and cancer
  • Infections, like ear infections
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

How does breastfeeding keep lactating parents 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 return to pre-pregnancy weight and keep extra weight off after weaning
  • Helps the uterus return to normal size and decreases risk of excess blood loss
  • Delays return of fertility in parents who are exclusively breastfeeding
  • Reduces insulin needs in diabetic breastfeeding parents
  • Builds self-confidence and bonding between parents and their baby
  • Helps parent get more overall sleep

How is breastfeeding/chestfeeding 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 parents take fewer sick days.
  • Health care systems save money since breastfed/chestfeed babies require fewer sick care visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations.

How can I support breastfeeding?
  • Encourage parents to breastfeed/chestfeed their babies and to prepare for breastfeeding/chestfeeding prenatally.
  • Show a positive attitude about breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Be a role model for others.
  • Become aware of the breastfeeding/chestfeeding support services in your community, so you can be a resource to breastfeeding mothers and their families.
  • For Partners: Help parents understand how to support their breastfeeding/chestfeeding partners. A lactating parent is much more likely to continue breastfeeding/chestfeeding with their partner's support.
  • Let the lactating parent's family members and friends know the important role they have in supporting breastfeeding/chestfeeding.
  • Tell breastfeeding/chestfeeding co-workers that you applaud their decision to continue breastfeeding/chestfeeding.
  • Offer help to new lactating parents.
  • Smile or give a thumbs up to parents who are breastfeeding/chestfeeding in public places.

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

*Studies on breastfeeding have included subjects presumed to be cisgender. When describing health effects seen in mother-infant dyads from research, replacing words to be gender-inclusive is incorrect if the original author or organization did not use such language. (Adapted from Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Position Statement and Guideline)