The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly supports breastfeeding as the preferred method of feeding newborns. The current recommendation is no formula, water or juice for the first 6 months. Breast milk has many medical and psychological benefits not available from human milk substitutes such as formula.
Though the decision to breastfeed is personal, as well as situational, we wanted to offer some information regarding the advantages.
Breast milk contains antibodies and other elements that can help support your baby’s developing immune system. This enables them to better fight off viral and bacterial infections that can lead to ear infections, upper respiratory infections and chronic illnesses. Breastfeeding also lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies due to these same antibodies.
Breastfeeding helps promote healthy, appropriate weight gain in children. Babies that strictly breastfeed have shown to have more leptin and more beneficial gut bacteria. Leptin regulates appetite and fat storage in the body.
The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Though the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, breastfeeding has shown to reduce the risk by about 50%. It has also shown positive effects on baby’s long-term brain development.
It is beneficial for mothers as well! Studies have also shown it helps mother and baby develop a strong bond. The skin-to-skin causes mothers to release a calming hormone called oxytocin; this can help fight off anxiety and depression. It can also help with postpartum weight loss, since the body is constantly burning calories while producing milk.
Lactation consultants are available to help and support those with difficulty breastfeeding.
Speak with your pediatrician if you have any concerns!