Pregnant and considering breastfeeding? How you feed your baby is your decision, and it’s an important one. Breastfeeding is one important step a mother can make to start her child on the path to good health.

Why it’s good for your baby AND you.

Working in health care, I talk a lot about breastfeeding with my patients and colleagues. We know that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life. We also know that choosing to breastfeed is a decision that only moms can make, but that it can sometimes be hard to weed through all the breastfeeding information that’s out there to make an informed choice.

Not sure what you really need to know? Let’s make it simple: if you are pregnant and considering breastfeeding your baby, here are the top five reasons why it’s so good for babies and moms alike:

Top 5 reasons to breastfeed:

  • Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It has almost all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life.
  • Breast milk helps prevent many illnesses that can affect babies – it reduces rates of ear infections by 25 percent, diarrhea by 60 percent and hospitalizations for pneumonia by 200 percent in a baby’s first year of life.
  • It lowers your baby’s lifetime health risks. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and then for the next six months have only breast milk and baby food have a reduced risk for asthma, obesity, diabetes and SIDS over their entire lifetime.
  • It lowers your health risks. Breastfeeding may lower your risk of breast cancer and diabetes later in life.
  • It helps your body recover from the stresses of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, which helps shrink your uterus back down to its normal size after baby comes.

Consider these benefits, but ultimately make the right decision for you. Spend some time researching and discussing with your doctor, your partner or support system and other moms. Do what you feel is best for you and your family.

  • Dr. Shannon Neale is a Family Physician at Park Nicollet. In addition to seeing patients, she teaches at the Family Medicine Residency Program and is the chair of the Family Medicine Department. Her favorite patients are new moms and their children. She’s excited to be a part of HealthPartners Health Matters because she’s passionate about helping provide the best possible care, opportunities and resources for our children. She has three children of her own and lots of pets. She loves spending time with all of them – especially if it’s outside in the sunshine!

    See more posts by Shannon >

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