Unsure about breastfeeding? How it benefits mom and baby

For new moms breastfeeding is a natural, healthy renewable food source for their baby. While breastfeeding is the number one choice to provide a baby substance, there are moms that aren't sure about whether or not its right for them.

Dr. Mariel Poortenga, a neo-natologist and medical director of breast feeding services at Mercy Health Saint Mary's, talk about how breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and the baby.

Breastfeeding provides the necessary nutrients that a baby needs to fully develop in proper proportions. Breast milk changes in volume and composition so it meets the needs of the baby at each stage of growth. Babies can easily digest breast milk, plus it helps them have healthier weights as they grow.

Dr. Poortenga says breastfeeding also protects babies against:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Diarrhea or bowel infections
  • Breathing/respiratory tract infections
  • Allergies, ear infections
  • UTI/ Urinary tract infection
  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Childhood obesity

While breastfeeding has many physical and mental benefits for the baby, mom can also benefit from breastfeeding her child. When a woman breastfeeds, she bleeds less after birth and has a rapid decrease in the size of her uterus, along with less menstrual blood loss and anemia. Women can also return to their pre-pregnancy weight quicker and have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

There are plenty of environmental benefits to breastfeeding for moms who like to "go green." Breastfeeding families are sick less often because there is no risk of contamination of the milk; the milk is always the right temperature and ready to feed. Manufacturers are also creating less waste or air pollution since breast milk doesn't come in containers if women are using the natural source.

Breastfeeding is the best way to help a child grow and develop for the first six months of their life, however it is understood that breastfeeding isn't always an option due to medical issues.

Dr. Poortenga says that if moms can't or don't want to breastfeed it is okay to feed the baby formula, but breastfeeding is the healthiest option for both mom and baby.

For more information on the health benefits of breastfeeding or to ask a professional questions, visit MercyHealth.com.

All information was provided by Dr. Mariel Poortenga and Mercy Health Saint Mary's.

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