Why breastfeeding is better

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

by Debra L. Karplus

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A new baby! It's so very exciting. Possibly you have other children or maybe this is your first. Or perhaps you are the new grandparent, feeling as if the blessed event is somewhat surreal, even if you have other grandchildren. There is so much to think about, so many choices, and so many decisions to make.

Many new moms choose to breastfeed their babies for many very good reasons.

It's difficult to come up with a reason not to breastfeed a new baby. The Center for Disease Control identifies several medical and health reasons why nursing one's baby is superior to bottle-feeding from formula. Longer duration of breastfeeding leads to more benefits. The CDC claims long-term health benefits to the infant; breastfed babies have overall better health than other babies. Additionally, the data shows that breastfeeding helps reduce the incidence of allergies, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There are also statistics that demonstrate that breastfeeding moms experience less stress and incidences of postpartum depression.

Nursing a baby with mother's milk is typically more convenient than using formula. There's no preparation or procedures needed in the kitchen, no buying or mixing formula, and no sterilizing bottles, nipples, and other accessories and paraphernalia. When baby is hungry, warm, healthy mother's milk is always ready. Think of mother's milk as the world's healthiest fast food!

Breastfeeding also saves money. There are several online calculators that show what it cost to raise a child of different ages. On BabyCenter.com, it shows that formula costs approximately $105 per month for each of the first six months of a baby's life. That's over six hundred dollars! Breast milk essentially costs nothing. Nurse a baby for longer and there's a greater savings.

Babies of mothers who work outside the home can still thrive on mother's milk.

Not all new moms can enjoy the luxury of staying at home with their infant, and frankly, many are eager to return to the work force. A simple solution to those moms who still want their babies to be fed their milk is the breast pump. Breast pumps have been around much longer than you might imagine. The first patent for a manual pump was in 1854. In the 1920s, the first pump was on the market, but it wasn't really until the past two decades or so that the variety of breast pumps has grown so rapidly. This popularity of breast pumps has been the result of pressure from moms who wanted to go back to work along with new technologies that have become available to design and create fancier breast pumps with more bells and whistles.

A breast pump can easily be purchased at your local pharmacy or large discount store, or ordered online from a variety of vendors. The choices are ample. The first big decision when selecting a breast pump is whether you want manual or electric. Interestingly, many of the online reviews written by consumers have more favorable results with the manual pumps than with the electric ones. The manual pumps cost about $30; they don't come with many accessories, but do seem to have a higher success rate with nursing moms.

Electric breast pumps cost $200 or more and come with as many accessories as you think you might need and are willing to pay for. The selection may be overwhelming. Many electric pumps come with a case for women on the go and with bottles. Some have a battery and cooler bag for keeping mother's pumped milk fresh for up to twelve hours. As you would with any purchase, definitely talk to other nursing moms and scrutinize online reviews and discussion boards to get their input on which pump might be best for you from reliable sources.

Many resources exist for nursing mothers who need information and guidance.

La Leche League International was the inception of seven women who wanted to breast feed their babies in 1956. The 1950s was a decade when few women breastfed their babies. La Leche League has since become a huge organization with local chapters holding meetings to dispense information and give support and encouragement and camaraderie to pregnant women and nursing moms. Their website at LLLI.org can assist moms in making smart decisions about many aspects of breastfeeding, including the purchase and use of a breast pump. New and not-so-new moms have much to gain by reaching out to La Leche League in their community.

Besides the health advantages for baby and mother and the convenience, breastfeeding for whatever duration of time seems reasonable can save money. Consider this dollar-stretching idea when making decisions about parenting issues. The benefits will please you and your baby.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

Take the Next Step:

  • Visit the Baby section of The Dollar Stretcher library. From clothing and diapers to toys and activities, you're sure to find the answers you'll need in the first years of your sweet little one's life.

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