Your baby is born expecting to receive what is in your milk. Of course, your milk is a great food for your baby. But it is far more. Unlike other options, your milk contains live cells that engulf germs to help prevent illness. Some of these live cells stay active in your baby’s body for years, helping to keep her healthy long after weaning. Still other parts of your milk help to activate your baby’s immune system. We are only now starting to understand the many roles mother’s milk plays in your baby’s lifelong health.
Research has found that some babies who miss out on mother’s milk tend to have poorer health outcomes. That’s why experts such as the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. After six months, they recommend continued breastfeeding for at least one to two years, with solid foods added.
Mothers’ health may also be affected by breastfeeding. Mothers who do not breastfeed may have a higher risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. They may also have a higher risk of developing Type II diabetes. And then there’s your financial health. Formula feeding can cost a family about $1000-$2000 during baby’s first year.
Breastfeeding is also part of your relationship with your baby. It calms and comforts your baby. It is one way of bringing you and your baby closer.