Many in the medical community are concerned about the declining number of mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides a number of benefits for both mom and baby. In most circumstances, breastfeeding is considered the best nutrition for a newborn. There are components of breast milk that make it the optimal choice, and which are not available in formula.
The World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) both recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months, then continuing to breastfeed for as long as possible. The CDC stated in its Healthy People 2010 Report that, “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, with a range of benefits for infants’ health, growth, immunity and development.”
Breast milk contains antibodies (disease-fighting cells) that protect infants from germs and illnesses. It is also easier to digest for most babies. Studies indicate that nursing babies have a lower risk of ear infections, diarrhea, stomach viruses, respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, diabetes, childhood leukemia and atopic dermatitis (dry and itchy skin).
Some Restrictions Apply
Despite the recommendation to breastfeed, there are some circumstances where breastfeeding is not an option due to certain medications or medical conditions. The baby may also not get the nutrition it requires and supplementation with formula is necessary. There are good options for formula and moms can use formula confidently if they need to supplement.
Breastfeeding is a unique experience for every woman and can vary even with each child. If you is struggling with breastfeeding, it is important you feel supported, and safe in expressing your concerns. Breastfeeding comes easily for some and is very difficult for others. Many resources are available to support breastfeeding moms.
If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.