Facts About BreastfeedingWhy is breast-feeding important?
is the healthiest food for babies and offersthe most complete nutrition, such as antibodies to helpfight illness. With the exception of a daily vitamin Dsupplement, breast milk is the only source of nutritionneeded during the first 6 months of life. After 6 months,iron-fortified foods are gradually introduced as youcontinue to breast-feed. All major
organizations that focus on children, such as the
American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP), recommend breast-feeding for at least
the first year
of a baby’s lifeor longer if desired. Your baby receives more health benefits the longer you breast-feed. Also, your breastmilk changes to meet your baby’s nutritional needs ashe or she grows.Breast-feeding helps your body recover from thestresses of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It also lowersyour risk for developing
. The longer you breast-feed, the more this risk is reduced.The first few weeks of breast-feeding typically are the most difficult. You are
, adjusting to hormonal changes, and operating with little sleep. Manywomen are also mentally and emotionally exhausted. Minor problems, such as sore or cracked nipples, may seem overwhelming. However, most breast-feeding problems areeasily prevented or solved. Overcoming these challenges during these first few weeks boosts your confidence, which makes you more likely to continue breast-feeding for afull year. Most women who persevere with breast-feeding have a great sense of accomplishment and recognize the importance of providing their child with the best possible nutrition.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding offers many benefits to the baby:• Breast milk provides the right balance of nutrients to help an infant grow into a strongand healthy toddler.• Breastfed infants, and those who are fed expressed breast milk, have fewer deathsduring the first year and experience fewer illnesses than babies fed formula.• Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect an infant against some commonchildhood illnesses and infections, such as diarrhea, middle ear infections, and certainlung infections.• Some recent NICHD-supported research also suggests that breast milk contains