Here are the benefits:
1). Easier digestion: Breast milk is meant to be digested by babies' tiny and fragile system. Formula has made some major advancements in this area, but nothing can compare to mother's milk.
2). Easier breathing: Breast fed babies develop a larger nasal space, which leads to better sleeping at night and less snoring. In addition, breast fed babies are less likely to develop sleep apnea later on in life than formula fed babies.
3). Nutrients: Because breast milk is made to be digested by babies, it is absorbed into the baby's system at a higher rate. According to The World Breastfeeding Organization, "World renowned pediatrician, Dr. Frank Oski, of the John Hopkins school of medicine said he discovered more than four hundred nutrients in human milk not available in formula."
4). Breast milk is loaded with immunoglobulin A and white blood cells. These fight against germs that can be found in every day situations, such as airborne viruses and bacteria. This means you will have a healthier baby and a healthier baby is a happier baby.
5). Lower chance of diabetes: Nursing lowers the amount of insulin that is released in babies. This leads to a lower chance of juvenile diabetes.
6). Higher IQ: Breast milk is packed with DHA which boosts the brain's development. While some formula manufacturers have started to include it in formula recipes, the real thing is always better.
7). Lower chance of SIDS: While all the reasons for SIDS are yet to be known, "winter-born, male, formula-fed babies" are at the greatest risk (according to the SIDS institute). If you are already pregnant or have delivered, which of these factors are you able to control?
8). Tastes better: I haven't done a taste test to confirm, but I've read and heard that breast milk is sweeter and more appealing to the baby.
9). Healthier skin: DHA and other omega 3 fatty acids contribute to this. Skin conditions, such a eczema are seen less frequently in breast fed babies.
10). Heightened senses: Since breast milk changes depending on what the mother eats, breast fed babies are exposed to a variety of flavors at a very early age and are likely to be more willing to try new foods when exposed to solids.
Of course, there are other benefits such as immediate bonding between mother and the baby. Those first few moments of breastfeeding in the hospital, which was a learning experience for both of us, are moments that I will never forget.
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I realize that breastfeeding is not practical or possible for every mother. This post is in no way intended to make anyone feel bad, but to make those who are in the decision process aware of the benefits.