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Breastfeeding FAQs

Why should I breastfeed?

Here are just some of the many good reasons why you should breastfeed your baby: 

  • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
  • There are health risks to your baby if you do not breastfeed. Breast milk has agents (called antibodies) in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Babies who are not exclusively breastfed for 6 months are more likely to develop a wide range of infections diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory illnesses. They are sick more often and have more doctor's visits. Infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S.
  • Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests in childhood, especially babies who were born prematurely.
  • Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding you might have after giving birth.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
  • Breastfeeding can help you bond with your baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.

How long should I breastfeed?  

Babies should be fed with breast milk only – no formula – for the first six months of life. The longer a mom and baby breastfeeds, the greater the benefits are for both mom and baby. Ideally, babies should receive breast milk through the first year of life, or for as long as both you and your baby wish.  Solid foods can be added to your baby’s diet, while you continue to breastfeed, when your baby is six months old. For at least the first six months, breastfed babies don't need supplements of water, juice, or other fluids. These can interfere with your milk supply if they are introduced during this time. One of the best things that only you can do is to breastfeed your baby for as long as possible.

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